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Predominance and Sources of Alkane and Fatty Acid Biomarkers in the Surface Sediments of Chitrapuzha River (South India)


Surface sediment samples were collected from Chitrapuzha (Cochin) estuarine system to identify the natural and anthropogenic origin of organic matter. The distribution and sources of organic matter were assessed with the help of fatty acid and alkane biomarkers. Fatty acids ranging from C12 to C28 were identified and C16:0 was the most abundant fatty acid, which contributed between 23.5 % and 52.4 % to total fatty acids. The low levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids indicate the effective bacterial recycling of algal fatty acids during the whole settling and depositing process. Aliphatic hydrocarbons ranging from C12 to C33 were identified and the total concentration ranged from 7876 to 43,357 ng g−1. The presence of unresolved complex mixtures and lower pristane to phytane ratios indicates the petroleum contamination in the study area.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the facilities and the support provided by the Department of Chemical Oceanography, Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), Cochin.

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Correspondence to S. M. Nair.

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Sanil Kumar, K.S., Nair, S.M. Predominance and Sources of Alkane and Fatty Acid Biomarkers in the Surface Sediments of Chitrapuzha River (South India). Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 94, 496–502 (2015).

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  • Sediment
  • Industrial effluents
  • Biomarkers
  • Source characterization