Title: Whole-Catchment Inventories of Trace Metals in Soils and Sediments in Mountain Lake Catchments in the Central Pyrenees: Apportioning the Anthropogenic and Natural Contributions
Citation: GEOCHIMICA ET COSMOCHIMICA ACTA vol. 82 p. 52-67
Publication Year: 2012
JRC Publication N°: JRC57867
ISSN: 0016-7037
URI: www.elsevier.com/locate/gca
DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2010.10.030
Type: Articles in Journals
Abstract: We have measured the concentration of Pb, Zn, Cd, Cu and Ni in rocks, soils, sediments and plants from three catchments in the Central Pyrenees, with the aim of estimating whole-catchment inventories for these trace metals and apportioning between the natural and anthropogenic fractions. We have used Pb isotopes to distinguish between natural and contaminant Pb, and compared the results to the apportioning based on reference elemental ratios in order to validate this second method. Both methods gave similar results, except in one of the catchments where soils presented a highly organic upper horizon with a differentiated geochemistry. These soils required a specific treatment in order to get a good agreement between both methods of estimation. Taking this into account, we have calculated then inventories for the other metals for which isotopic methods are not available. Previous studies have shown that Pb contamination started in the area as early as the 1rst century BC. In the present study, the earliest indication of Pb contamination in lake sediments was dated ~1250 AD and spanned until the present. During the 19th century, there was a change in the source of anthropogenic Pb as indicated by its isotopic composition. The estimated inventories of anthropogenic trace metals for the whole catchments were ~1 g m-2 of Pb and Zn, ~0.1-0.2 g m-2 of Ni and Cu, and ~0.01 g m-2 of Cd. Pb and Zn inventories were similar to those in other mountainous and rural areas in northern and eastern European locations, whereas Ni, Cu and Cd inventories were lower in the Pyrenees. The anthropogenic trace metals accumulated in Pyrenean catchments were three orders of magnitude higher than the current yearly atmospheric deposition over the area. This indicates the potential of sediments and soils as sources of a delayed contamination caused by the remobilisation of anthropogenic trace metals accumulated over the course of time.
JRC Institute:Institute for Transuranium Elements

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