The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository
Warning ePrints Soton is experiencing an issue with some file downloads not being available. We are working hard to fix this. Please bear with us.

Measuring anthropogenic impacts on an industrialised coastal marine area using chemical and textural signatures in sediments: A case study of Augusta Harbour (Sicily, Italy)

Measuring anthropogenic impacts on an industrialised coastal marine area using chemical and textural signatures in sediments: A case study of Augusta Harbour (Sicily, Italy)
Measuring anthropogenic impacts on an industrialised coastal marine area using chemical and textural signatures in sediments: A case study of Augusta Harbour (Sicily, Italy)
From the early 1950s until the late 1970s, Augusta Bay (Sicily, Italy) served as a major European (petro) chemical hub. It thereafter began a progressive decline as several crude oil refining and industrial plants closed due to the transfer of production cycles to other sites around the globe. As a result of the rapid and relatively uncontrolled post-WWII development of the site, several environmental studies identified significant contamination in sediments around the southernmost sector of the bay. The pollution was mainly due to barium (Ba) and mercury (Hg), attributable to the former chlor-alkali plant (1958–2003), and polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB). The present study focuses on understanding the broad legacy of pollution across the whole harbour by systematically analysing 10 sediment cores collected in 2008 for contaminant concentration profiles of Hg, Ba, PCBs, HCB and grain-size variations. Pre-industrial environmental geochemical background conditions were identified using data from the deeper parts of cores. The results show that contamination has affected the entire harbour area to varying degrees, and this has allowed identifying contamination transfer, based on decreasing concentrations and related depths in the sediment cores from the southernmost sector to the central and northern area. A recent finding by the current researchers is that the construction of the dam/breakwater in the early 1960s, that largely coincided with the start of industrial inputs, led to the trapping of fine terrestrial sediment inside the harbour, particularly in the central and northern area. This trapped sediment provides a granulometric time marker in those cores. The presence of highly contaminated sediments inside the harbour represents a significant future liability unless remedial action is applied to remove the worst of the polluted sediment.
0048-9697
Romano, E.
fccb3aef-330d-41c6-8e54-239fc749d3fb
Bergamin, L.
f39c2f27-7b1b-4bfb-974b-55b14ff085ab
Croudace, I.w.
24deb068-d096-485e-8a23-a32b7a68afaf
Pierfranceschi, G.
a493e370-6134-4d26-8852-3758da0cf0a0
Sesta, G.
e68a164c-00dd-458e-bf35-803f13b0a5e4
Ausili, A.
67ec198b-faa7-401e-bee3-2a954585a855
Romano, E.
fccb3aef-330d-41c6-8e54-239fc749d3fb
Bergamin, L.
f39c2f27-7b1b-4bfb-974b-55b14ff085ab
Croudace, I.w.
24deb068-d096-485e-8a23-a32b7a68afaf
Pierfranceschi, G.
a493e370-6134-4d26-8852-3758da0cf0a0
Sesta, G.
e68a164c-00dd-458e-bf35-803f13b0a5e4
Ausili, A.
67ec198b-faa7-401e-bee3-2a954585a855

Romano, E., Bergamin, L., Croudace, I.w., Pierfranceschi, G., Sesta, G. and Ausili, A. (2020) Measuring anthropogenic impacts on an industrialised coastal marine area using chemical and textural signatures in sediments: A case study of Augusta Harbour (Sicily, Italy). Science of the Total Environment, [142683]. (doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142683).

Record type: Article

Abstract

From the early 1950s until the late 1970s, Augusta Bay (Sicily, Italy) served as a major European (petro) chemical hub. It thereafter began a progressive decline as several crude oil refining and industrial plants closed due to the transfer of production cycles to other sites around the globe. As a result of the rapid and relatively uncontrolled post-WWII development of the site, several environmental studies identified significant contamination in sediments around the southernmost sector of the bay. The pollution was mainly due to barium (Ba) and mercury (Hg), attributable to the former chlor-alkali plant (1958–2003), and polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB). The present study focuses on understanding the broad legacy of pollution across the whole harbour by systematically analysing 10 sediment cores collected in 2008 for contaminant concentration profiles of Hg, Ba, PCBs, HCB and grain-size variations. Pre-industrial environmental geochemical background conditions were identified using data from the deeper parts of cores. The results show that contamination has affected the entire harbour area to varying degrees, and this has allowed identifying contamination transfer, based on decreasing concentrations and related depths in the sediment cores from the southernmost sector to the central and northern area. A recent finding by the current researchers is that the construction of the dam/breakwater in the early 1960s, that largely coincided with the start of industrial inputs, led to the trapping of fine terrestrial sediment inside the harbour, particularly in the central and northern area. This trapped sediment provides a granulometric time marker in those cores. The presence of highly contaminated sediments inside the harbour represents a significant future liability unless remedial action is applied to remove the worst of the polluted sediment.

Text
1-s2.0-S0048969720362124-main - Proof
Download (4MB)

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 25 September 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 6 October 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445139
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445139
ISSN: 0048-9697
PURE UUID: cdce6ca4-1c92-4a1a-8163-518cbfe11616

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 23 Nov 2020 17:30
Last modified: 23 Nov 2020 17:30

Export record

Altmetrics

Contributors

Author: E. Romano
Author: L. Bergamin
Author: I.w. Croudace
Author: G. Pierfranceschi
Author: G. Sesta
Author: A. Ausili

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×