Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 2573–2585 | Cite as

Spatial environmental risk evaluation of potential toxic elements in stream sediments

  • I. M. H. R. Antunes
  • M. T. D. Albuquerque
  • N. Roque
Original Paper


Potential toxic elements (PTE), in stream sediments, were used as contamination indicators for the definition of high-/low-grade spatial clusters in the Monfortinho area (Central Portugal). A set of 271 stream sediment samples was used for spatial modelling and further definition of rings of enrichment—high and low rings. A three-step multivariate statistical and geostatistical approach was used: (1) principal components analysis for PTE’s association evaluation and dimensionality reduction; (2) ordinary kriging as an unbiased interpolator for content inference and construction of a continuous representation of the considered attributes, at any arbitrary spatial location; (3) G clustering algorithm for the definition of high and low significance clusters. A moderate contamination in stream sediments is observed for almost all the considered PTE and a very high contamination for Ba, Cr and B. High contamination clusters are observed for Fe, Ni, Ba, Cu, B, Zn, V—northwest and southeast clusters—and for Cr—north and southwest clusters. The contamination degree index varies from moderate to high, which is mainly associated with the old mineralizations. The high computed rings often overlap the areas of abandoned Ba–Zn mineralization, as well as the sedimentary gold concentrations, along the Erges River banks. Tin and Cd spatial distribution may be related to former cassiterite exploitations in the survey area. Chromium is possibly connected with the schists. The definition of clusters with a PTE spatial enrichment will allow for the identification of contamination activities and therefore, the definition of adequate monitoring and mitigation actions.


Stream sediments Contamination factor Contamination degree Principal components analysis Ordinary kriging G clustering 



Our thanks are due to Prof. M.R. Machado Leite for the use of data on stream sediments from Instituto Geológico e Mineiro, S. Mamede de Infesta (Portugal). This work is co-funded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund, based on COMPETE 2020 (Programa Operacional da Competitividade e Internacionalização), project ICT (UID/GEO/04,683/2013) with reference POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007690 and national funds provided by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. M. H. R. Antunes
    • 1
  • M. T. D. Albuquerque
    • 2
  • N. Roque
    • 3
  1. 1.ICT/University of MinhoCERENA/University of LisbonBragaPortugal
  2. 2.Instituto Politécnico de Castelo BrancoCERENA/University of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Instituto Politécnico de Castelo BrancoCastelo BrancoPortugal

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