Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 200, Issue 1, pp 119-132

First online:

Tracing the Metal Pollution History of the Tisza River Through the Analysis of a Sediment Depth Profile

  • H. L. NguyenAffiliated withDepartment of Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, Vrije Universiteit BrusselFaculty of Chemical Technology, Hanoi University of Technology
  • , M. BraunAffiliated withDepartment of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Debrecen
  • , I. SzalokiAffiliated withDepartment of Nuclear Techniques, Budapest University of Technology and Economics
  • , W. BaeyensAffiliated withDepartment of Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • , R. Van GriekenAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, University of Antwerp
  • , M. LeermakersAffiliated withDepartment of Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, Vrije Universiteit Brussel Email author 

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The vertical profiles of 20 major and trace metals were investigated along a 180-cm-long sediment core, which was sampled at Kiss-Janosne-Holt Tisza, an oxbow lake located in the upper part of the Tisza River in Hungary. The vertical profiles showed sharp peaks at different depths, reflecting historical pollution events and unusual changes of river water characteristics. Five different groups of metals, containing metals which were strongly correlated and showing a similar behaviour, could be distinguished by factor analysis. Six areas, with variable degrees and types of contamination, were classified in the sediment core with cluster analysis. The most polluted sections were found in the upper 50-cm part (significantly contaminated by Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd and Hg) and the deeper 100–120-cm part (characterised by high concentrations of metals associated with mining activities, such as Fe and Mn, as well as Cu, Zn and Pb). In recent years, important pollution events, such as the one which took place in March of 2000, were the reason for pollution of the upper sediment layers, whereas mining activities during the last century were responsible for the pollution of the deeper core sections.


Heavy metals Sediment core Pollution Tisza River