Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 995–1014 | Cite as

Storm-induced transfer of particulate trace metals to the deep-sea in the Gulf of Lion (NW Mediterranean Sea)

  • C. Dumas
  • D. Aubert
  • X. Durrieu de Madron
  • W. Ludwig
  • S. Heussner
  • N. Delsaut
  • C. Menniti
  • C. Sotin
  • R. Buscail
Original Paper


In order to calculate budgets of particulate matter and sediment-bound contaminants leaving the continental shelf of the Gulf of Lion (GoL), settling particles were collected in March 2011 during a major storm, using sediment traps. The collecting devices were deployed in the Cap de Creus submarine canyon, which represents the main export route. Particulate matter samples were analyzed to obtain mass fluxes and contents in organic carbon, Al, Cr, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb and La, Nd and Sm. The natural or anthropogenic origin of trace metals was assessed using enrichment factors (EFs). Results are that Zn, Cu and Pb appeared to be of anthropogenic origin, whereas Ni, Co and Cr appeared to be strictly natural. The anthropogenic contribution of all elements (except Cd) was refined by acid-leaching (HCl 1 N) techniques, confirming that Zn, Cu and Pb are the elements that are the most enriched. However, although those elements are highly labile (59–77 %), they do not reflect severe enrichment (EFs <4). Most particles originate from the Rhone River. This has been confirmed by two different tracing procedures using rare earth elements ratios and concentrations of acid-leaching residual trace metals. Our results hence indicate that even in this western extremity of the GoL, storm events mainly export Rhone-derived particles via the Cap de Creus submarine canyons to the deep-sea environments. This export of material is significant as it represents about a third of the annual PTM input from the Rhone River.


Particulate trace metal Storm event Gulf of Lion Cap de Creus canyon Element geochemistry Sediment traps 



We are grateful to M. Guart, A. Alonso and E. Pelfort (Grup de Recerca Consolidat en Geociències Marines, Barcelona, Spain) for their help in laboratory work. We also thank all the crew and officials of R/V l’Atalante, the technical and scientific staff involved in the CASCADE cruise. The European research projects PERSEUS (FP7-OCEAN-2011-3-287600) and HERMIONE (FP7-ENV-2008-1-226354), as well as the French programme MERMEX under the MISTRALS framework supported this work. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Dumas
    • 1
  • D. Aubert
    • 1
  • X. Durrieu de Madron
    • 1
  • W. Ludwig
    • 1
  • S. Heussner
    • 1
  • N. Delsaut
    • 1
  • C. Menniti
    • 1
  • C. Sotin
    • 1
  • R. Buscail
    • 1
  1. 1.CEntre de Formation et de Recherche sur les Environnements Méditerranéens, CNRS, UMR 5110Université Perpignan Via DomitiaPerpignanFrance

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