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Biogeochemical evaluation of historical sediment contamination in the Gulf of Palermo (NW Sicily): analysis of pseudo-trace elements and stable isotope signals

Biogeochemical evaluation of historical sediment contamination in the Gulf of Palermo (NW Sicily): analysis of pseudo-trace elements and stable isotope signals
Biogeochemical evaluation of historical sediment contamination in the Gulf of Palermo (NW Sicily): analysis of pseudo-trace elements and stable isotope signals
Sedimentary biogeochemical data from the Gulf of Palermo, which borders one of the major urban and industrial areas of the central Mediterranean, provide a decennial–centennial-scale record of the effects of human activity on this coastal environment. In this study we report trace elements (TE), Corg/Ntot ratios, ?13Corg, and ?15Ntot from dated (210Pb) sediments collected in two coastal stations variably influenced by urban/fluvial loadings and illegal dumping and we compare them with published data for offshore sediments, in order to investigate at a large spatial scale the influence of on-land activities on sedimentary marine system. TE were generally low except for Hg and Pb, which exhibited moderate enrichments. Low TE enrichment factors with respect to Corg indicate that trace elements were mainly trapped by sedimentary organic matter. Corg/Ntot, ?13Corg, and ?15Ntot depth profiles showed that sediments received organic matter derived from marine sources mixed with organic matter from the erosion of terrestrial material as well as unregulated sewage discharges. Superimposed on these patterns, repeated shifts in ?13Corg towards values higher than those typical of offshore Palermo sediments were concomitant with higher Corg/Ntot. These shifts observed in the core portions covering the last 40 years reflect enhanced eutrophication as result of elevated nutrient input into marine waters. The results of this study have traced the origin and extent of the organic enrichment and emphasized the importance of utilizing a complete range of chemical and isotopic analyses from sedimentary records to reconstruct the environmental history of coastal ecosystems impacted by urbanization processes.
0924-7963
185-196
Di Leonardo, Rossella
95806f9e-2b7e-4ae7-904f-afe318d1bd4e
Cundy, Andrew B.
994fdc96-2dce-40f4-b74b-dc638286eb08
Bellanca, Adriana
8d1d0c0a-8099-41ee-9b32-f0c443c7b048
Mazzola, Antonio
02eaeb38-3456-45ac-9e13-8ead7b2900eb
Vizzini, Salvatrice
3a3374f8-0dbf-4ddc-b23a-b5008939df53
Di Leonardo, Rossella
95806f9e-2b7e-4ae7-904f-afe318d1bd4e
Cundy, Andrew B.
994fdc96-2dce-40f4-b74b-dc638286eb08
Bellanca, Adriana
8d1d0c0a-8099-41ee-9b32-f0c443c7b048
Mazzola, Antonio
02eaeb38-3456-45ac-9e13-8ead7b2900eb
Vizzini, Salvatrice
3a3374f8-0dbf-4ddc-b23a-b5008939df53

Di Leonardo, Rossella, Cundy, Andrew B., Bellanca, Adriana, Mazzola, Antonio and Vizzini, Salvatrice (2012) Biogeochemical evaluation of historical sediment contamination in the Gulf of Palermo (NW Sicily): analysis of pseudo-trace elements and stable isotope signals. Journal of Marine Systems, 94, 185-196. (doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2011.11.022).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Sedimentary biogeochemical data from the Gulf of Palermo, which borders one of the major urban and industrial areas of the central Mediterranean, provide a decennial–centennial-scale record of the effects of human activity on this coastal environment. In this study we report trace elements (TE), Corg/Ntot ratios, ?13Corg, and ?15Ntot from dated (210Pb) sediments collected in two coastal stations variably influenced by urban/fluvial loadings and illegal dumping and we compare them with published data for offshore sediments, in order to investigate at a large spatial scale the influence of on-land activities on sedimentary marine system. TE were generally low except for Hg and Pb, which exhibited moderate enrichments. Low TE enrichment factors with respect to Corg indicate that trace elements were mainly trapped by sedimentary organic matter. Corg/Ntot, ?13Corg, and ?15Ntot depth profiles showed that sediments received organic matter derived from marine sources mixed with organic matter from the erosion of terrestrial material as well as unregulated sewage discharges. Superimposed on these patterns, repeated shifts in ?13Corg towards values higher than those typical of offshore Palermo sediments were concomitant with higher Corg/Ntot. These shifts observed in the core portions covering the last 40 years reflect enhanced eutrophication as result of elevated nutrient input into marine waters. The results of this study have traced the origin and extent of the organic enrichment and emphasized the importance of utilizing a complete range of chemical and isotopic analyses from sedimentary records to reconstruct the environmental history of coastal ecosystems impacted by urbanization processes.

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Published date: June 2012
Organisations: Geochemistry

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 399330
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/399330
ISSN: 0924-7963
PURE UUID: d7b20dee-870f-45af-882c-21a218c90361
ORCID for Andrew B. Cundy: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4368-2569

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 11 Aug 2016 13:07
Last modified: 17 Sep 2019 00:36

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