The Fate of Contaminants and Stable Pb Isotopes in a Changing Estuarine Environment: 20 Years On

TitleThe Fate of Contaminants and Stable Pb Isotopes in a Changing Estuarine Environment: 20 Years On
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsCundy, AB, Croudace, IW
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Pagination9488 - 9497
Date Published2017/09/05
ISBN Number0013-936X

Estuarine sediments provide an important sink for contaminants discharged into fluvial, estuarine, and nearshore settings, and numerous authors have utilized this trapping function to assess historical contaminant loadings and contaminant breakdown/transformation processes. This Article examines the retention of elemental and isotopic sedimentary signatures in an industrialized estuarine system subject to a strongly upward sea-level trend, over a 20 year period. Two contrasting saltmarsh sites (at Hythe and Hamble, part of the wider Southampton Water estuarine system, UK) were examined, which had been previously cored and analyzed in the early 1990s. Much of the geochemical record of recent anthropogenic activity has been eroded and lost at the Hamble site. In contrast, radiometric, isotopic and elemental records of anthropogenic activity have been retained in the Hythe marsh, with 137Cs and Cu depth profiles showing retention of input maxima related to fallout and local industrial discharges, respectively. Stable Pb isotope data show a broad degree of correspondence in cores analyzed in 1994 and 2014 when plotted against sediment (radiometric) age, indicating the usefulness of isotopic data in retaining information on Pb sources and in disentangling Pb input histories. New ultrahigh precision, double-spike mass spectrometry stable Pb isotope data allow clearer discrimination of historical Pb input phases, and highlight within-estuary mixing and supply of reworked, secondary contamination from erosion of anthropogenically labeled sediments elsewhere in the estuary.

Short TitleEnviron. Sci. Technol.