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Accumulation of As, Pb, and Cu Associated with the Recent Sedimentary Processes in the Colorado Delta, South of the United States-Mexico Boundary

  • L. W. Daesslé
  • K. C. Lugo-Ibarra
  • H. J. Tobschall
  • M. Melo
  • E. A. Gutiérrez-Galindo
  • J. García-Hernández
  • L. G. Álvarez
Article

Abstract

Sediment cores from the Colorado River (CR) remnant delta were used to assess the changing sedimentation and pollutant deposition processes in response to extensive human manipulation of the river. The cores are formed of alternating layers of clays and silts, with isolated sandy horizons. The clayey units are interpreted as periods of flood flows into this low gradient and meandering estuary after dam construction in the United States. The geochemistry of these sediments is particular because of the association of MnO with CaO rather than with the Fe2O3-rich clays. Past pollution of the CR delta by As, and probably also Pb and Cu, is recorded in some cores. Enrichment factors (EFs) >1 for these elements and their statistical association suggest anthropogenic inputs. The most likely sources for these element enrichments (especially As) are the arsenate-based pesticides used intensively in the area during the first half of the 20th century. The transport of these elements from the nearby agricultural lands into the present river reaches appears to have been driven in part by flooding events of the CR. Flushing by river and tide flows appear to be responsible of a lower pollutant deposition in the CR compared to the adjacent Hardy River (HR). Arsenic in the buried clay units of the HR has concentrations above the probable toxic effect level (PEL) for dwelling organisms, with maximum concentrations of 30 μg g−1. Excess 210Pb activities (210Pbxs) indicate that fluxes of this unsupported atmospheric isotope were not constant in this estuarine environment. However, the presence of 210Pbxs does indicate that these sediments accumulated during the last ~100 years. Aproximate sediment ages were estimated from the correlation of historic flooding events with the interpretation of the stratigraphic record. They are in fair agreement with the reported onset of DDT metabolites at the bottom of one core.

Keywords

210Pb Suspended Load Flood Flow Average Sedimentation Rate Agricultural Return 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge the field support of E. Ortiz, N. A. Ramos, and E. Ceseña and the laboratory assistance in Germany of R. Chandrajith, A. Baier, D. Lutz, M. Hertel, and M. Döni. K.L.I. and M.M. were sponsored by a scholarship from CONACYT. Financial support from UABC-IIO-5038 and PROMEP-UABC-CA130-2007 for this project is acknowledged, as well as SEP-FOMES 1999–2001 grants for the purchase of equipment at UABC. Thanks go to the three anonymous reviewers and to V. Camacho, who helped us to significantly improve an earlier version of this work. The research was carried out during a visit by L.W.D. at Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, kindly sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation through a Georg Forster fellowship.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. W. Daesslé
    • 1
    • 2
  • K. C. Lugo-Ibarra
    • 1
    • 3
  • H. J. Tobschall
    • 2
  • M. Melo
    • 1
    • 3
  • E. A. Gutiérrez-Galindo
    • 1
  • J. García-Hernández
    • 4
  • L. G. Álvarez
    • 5
  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones OceanológicasUniversidad Autónoma de Baja California UABCEnsenadaMexico
  2. 2.Institut für Geologie und MineralogieFriedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg FAUErlangenGermany
  3. 3.Facultad de Ciencias MarinasUniversidad Autónoma de Baja California UABCEnsenadaMexico
  4. 4.Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo CIADGuaymasMexico
  5. 5.División de OceanologíaCentro de Investigación Científica y Educación Superior de Ensenada CICESEEnsenadaMexico

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