Contrasting mercury and manganese deposition in a mangrove-dominated estuary (Guaratuba Bay, Brazil)
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- Sanders, C.J., Santos, I.R., Silva-Filho, E.V. et al. Geo-Mar Lett (2008) 28: 239. doi:10.1007/s00367-008-0104-8
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Sediment cores were taken at seven sites along the mangrove-bound Guaratuba Bay estuary (southern Brazil), with the purpose of assessing conditions controlling Hg deposition along a horizontal estuarine sediment gradient. The data suggest contrasting depositional patterns for Hg and Mn in this relatively pristine setting. Total Hg contents of bulk sediments ranged from 12 to 36 ng/g along the estuary, the highest values being found in muddier organic-rich sediments of the upper estuary (the corresponding mud gradient is 12 to 42 wt.%, and the organic matter gradient 4 to 10 wt.%). Thus, the deposition of fine sediments relatively enriched in mercury occurs primarily in closer proximity to the freshwater source. The data also indicate a reverse gradient in reactive Mn contents, ranging from 29 to 81 μg/g, and increasing seaward. This implies that reactive Mn is mobilized from fine-grained reducing mangrove forest sediments in the upper estuary, and deposited downstream in sandier, oxygen-rich nearshore sediments. These results suggest that mangrove-surrounded estuaries may act as barriers to mercury transport to coastal waters, but as a source of manganese. The present findings also imply that reactive Mn may be used as an indication of Hg depositional patterns in other similar coastal sedimentary settings.