Assessment of geochemical mobility of metals in surface sediments of the Santa Rosalia mining region, Western Gulf of California

Evgueni Shumilin, Vyacheslav Gordeev, Griselda Rodríguez Figueroa, Liudmila Demina, Konstantin Choumiline

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To asses the geomobility of cadmium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, lead, and zinc in marine sediments near the Santa Rosalía copper smelter, which is located on the eastern coast of the Baja California Peninsula, sequential leaching was applied to sediment samples containing different levels of Cu: (1) uncontaminated or slightly contaminated (<55 mg kg-1 Cu); (2) moderately contaminated (55-500 mg kg-1Cu); and (3) heavily contaminated (>500 mg kg-1 Cu). Concentrations of Cd, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn in four fractions of the leachate (mobile fraction F1, relatively mobile fraction F2, associated with organic matter/sulphides fraction F3, and residual fraction F4) were measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS). The sediments with Cu concentration <500 mg kg-1 displayed prevalence of mobile acid-leachable fraction F1 and reducible fraction F2 for Cd, Cu, Mn, and Pb, whereas the relative contribution of fraction F3 was relatively low for all of the examined metals. Residual fraction F4 was highest (>65%) for Fe and Ni because both metals are associated with the crystalline matrix of natural sediments. The sediments heavily contaminated with Cu (>500 mg kg-1) had dramatically increased percentages of Cu, Mn, Pb, and Zn, ranging on average from 63 to 81%, in the residual fraction. In the case of Cu, for example, the relative abundances of this element in the different fractions of such sediments followed this sequence: residual fraction F4 (76 ± 5%) >absorbed form and carbonates fraction F1 (15 ± 5%) >Fe and Mn oxyhydroxides fraction F2 (5 ± 2%) >fraction associated with organic matter and sulphides F3 (4.5 ± 3.9%). Copper, Pb, and Zn contents in each geochemical fraction of all samples were compared with sediment-quality guideline values ("effects range low" [ERL] and "effects range medium" [ERM]) to assess their possible negative effects on biota. Copper contents in mobile fractions F1 and F2, which were moderately contaminated with Cu, were higher than ERL but lower than ERM guideline values. For heavily contaminated sediments, Zn contents of mobile fractions F1 and F2 were higher than ERL but lower than ERM guideline values. The Cu content of fraction F1 was higher than ERM guideline values, whereas for fractions F2 and F3 copper content was higher than ERL guidelines but still lower than ERM guideline values. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8-25
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


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