Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 4067–4077 | Cite as

Dissolved trace element biogeochemistry of a tropical river, Southwestern India

  • M Tripti
  • G P Gurumurthy
  • K BalakrishnaEmail author
  • M D Chadaga
Research Article


River Swarna, a small tropical river originating in Western Ghats (at an altitude of 1,160 m above mean sea level) and flowing in the southwest coast of India discharges an average of 54 m3s−1 of water into the Arabian Sea, of which significant part is being discharged during the monsoon. No studies have been made yet on the water chemistry of the Swarna River basin, even as half a million people of Udupi district use it for domestic and irrigational purposes. As large community in this region depends on the freshwater of Swarna River, there is an urgent need to study the trace element geochemistry of this west flowing river for better water management and sustainable development. The paper presents the results on the biogeochemistry of dissolved trace elements in the Swarna River for a period of 1 year. The results obtained on the trace elements show seasonal effect on the concentrations as well as behavior and thus forming two groups, discharge driven (Li, Be, Al, V, Cr, Ni, Zr, In, Pb, Bi and U) and base flow driven (groundwater input; Mn, Fe, Co, Cu, Ga, Zn, As, Se, Rb, Sr, Ag, Cd, Cs, Ba and Tl) trace elements in Swarna River. The biogeochemical processes explained through Hierarchical Cluster Analysis show complexation of Fe, Ga and Ba with dissolved organic carbon, redox control over Mn and Tl and biological control over V and Ni. Also, the water quality of Swarna River remains within the permissible limits of drinking water standards.


Dissolved trace element Biogeochemistry Hierarchical cluster analysis Tropical river Swarna River Southwestern India 



This work is funded by European Commission through their support to Manipal Center for European Studies (MCES) and post-doctoral research fund (to KB) from Manipal Institute of Technology. Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India is sincerely thanked for providing the necessary facilities to carry out this work. The authors are thankful to MRPL, Mangalore for providing the ICP-MS facility for trace element analysis. Also, Dr. JJ Braun, Dr. J Riotte, and Dr. S Audry at GET, France are thanked for providing the analytical facilities to measure major ions and DOC concentration in Swarna River.

Supplementary material

11356_2012_1341_MOESM1_ESM.doc (316 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 316 kb)


  1. Adriano DC (1986) Trace elements in the terrestrial environment. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Balasubramanyan MN (1978) Geochronology and geochemistry of Archean tonolitic gneisses and granites of South Kanara district, Karnataka State, India. In: Windley BF, Naqvi SM (eds) The origin and evolution of Archean Geochemistry. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 59–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balistrieri LS, Murray JW, Paul B (1994) Geochemical cycling of trace elements in a biogenic meromictic lake. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 58(19):3993–4008CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buffle J, Leppard GG (1995) Characterization of aquatic colloids and macromolecules. 1. Structure and behavior of colloidal material. Environ Sci Technol 29:2169–2175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Canfield DE (1997) The geochemistry of river particulates from the continental USA: major elements. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 61(16):3349–3365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chadaga M (2009) River basin studies of Seeta-Swarna and Gangolli composite river systems of coastal Karnataka, west coast of India using remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) techniques. Ph.D. thesis (unpublished), Manipal University.Google Scholar
  7. Chen K, Jiao JJ, Huang J, Huang R (2007) Multivariate statistical evaluation of trace elements in groundwater in a coastal area in Shenzhen, China. Environ Pollut 147:771–780CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cobelo-Garcia A, Prego R, Lambandeira A (2004) Land inputs of trace metals, major elements, particulate organic carbon and suspended solids to an industrial coastal bay of the NE Atlantic. Water Res 38:1753–1764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crerar DA, Cormick RK, Barnes HL (1976) Geology and geochemistry of manganese. Schweizerbart, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  10. Das A, Krishnaswami S, Sarin MM, Pande K (2005) Chemical weathering in the Krishna Basin and Western Ghats of the Deccan traps, India: rates of basalt weathering and their controls. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 69(8):2067–2084CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davis JA (1984) Complexation of trace metals by adsorbed natural organic matter. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 48(5):679–691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deepa VJ, Balakrishna K, Mugeraya G, Srinikethan G, Krishnakumar PK (2007) Spatial and temporal variations in water quality, major ions and trace metals in River Godavari at Rajahmundry. Pollut Res 26:757–763Google Scholar
  13. Degens ET, Kempe S, Richey JE (1991) Summary: Biogeochemistry of major world rivers. In: Degens ET, Kempe S & Richey JE (Eds) Biogeochemistry of major world rivers. SCOPE Report. Wiley, London. pp. 323–347Google Scholar
  14. Drever JI (1997) The geochemistry of natural waters: surface and groundwater environments. Prentice-Hall, Upper SaddleGoogle Scholar
  15. Dupré B, Gaillardet J, Rousseau D, Allègre CJ (1996) Major and trace elements of river-borne material: the Congo Basin. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 60:1301–1321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Edmunds WM, Smedley PL (1996) Groundwater geochemistry and health: an overview. In: Appleton JD, Fuge R, McCall GJH (eds) Environmental geochemistry and health, geological society special publication, 113th edn., pp 91–105Google Scholar
  17. Elbaz-Poulichet F, Seyler P, Maurice-Bourgoin L, Guyot J-L, Dupuy C (1999) Trace element geochemistry in the upper Amazon drainage basin (Bolivia). Chem Geol 157:319–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Elbaz-Poulichet F, Seidel J-L, Casiot C, Tuesseau-Vuillemin M-H (2006) Short term variability of dissolved trace element concentrations in the Marne and Seine rivers near Paris. Sci Total Environ 367:278–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Erel Y, Blum JD, Roueff E (2004) Lead and strontium isotopes as monitors of experimental granitoid mineral dissolution. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 68:4649–4663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Eyrolle F, Benedetti MF, Benaim JY, Février D (1996) The distributions of colloidal and dissolved organic carbon, major elements and trace elements in small tropical catchments. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 60(19):3643–3656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gaillardet J, Dupré B, Allègre CJ (1995) A global geochemical mass budget applied to the Congo basin rivers: erosion rates and continental crust composition. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 59:3469–3485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gaillardet J, Viers J, Dupré B (2003) The trace element geochemistry of surface waters. Treatise on geochemistry. Elsevier, Amsterdam 5:225–272Google Scholar
  23. Geological Survey of India (1981) Geological and mineral map of Karnataka and Goa. Swaminath J et al. (eds) Krishnamurthy VS, Director General, Geological Survey of India.Google Scholar
  24. Gurumurthy GP, Balakrishna K, Tripti M, Riotte J, Audry S, Braun JJ, Udaya Shankar HN (2012) Sources and processes affecting the chemistry of subsurface waters along a tropical river basin, Southwestern India. Hydrolog Sci J (under review)Google Scholar
  25. Gurumurthy GP, Balakrishna K, Riotte J, Braun JJ, Audry S, Udaya Shankar HN, Manjunatha BR (2012) Controls on intense silicate weathering in a tropical river, southwestern India. Chem Geol 300-301:61–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jain CK, Sharma MK (2001) Distribution of trace elements in the Hindon river system, India. J Hydrol 253:81–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jha PK, Tiwari J, Singh UK, Kumar M, Subramanian V (2009) Chemical weathering and associated CO2 consumption in the Godavari river basin, India. Chem Geol 264:364–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Morel FMM, Hering JG (1993) Principles and applications of aquatic geochemistry. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Mylon S, Twining B, Fisher N, Benoit G (2003) Relating the speciation of Cd, Cu and Pb in two Connecticut rivers with their uptake in algae. Environ Sci Technol 37:1261–1267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Negrél P, Petelet-Giraud E, Widory D (2004) Strontium isotope geochemistry of alluvial groundwater: a tracer for groundwater resources characterisation. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci Discuss 8(5):959–972CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Oliva P, Viers J, Dupré B (2003) Chemical weathering in granitic environments. Chem Geol 202:225–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Palmer SCJ, van Hinsberg VJ, McKenzie JM, Yee S (2011) Characterization of acid river dilution and associated trace element behaviour through hydrogeochemical modelling: a case study of the Banyu Pahit River in East Java, Indonesia. Appl Geochem 26:1802–1810CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pattanaik JK, Balakrishnan S, Bhutani R, Singh P (2007) Chemical and strontium isotopic composition of Kaveri, Palar and Ponnaiyar rivers: significance to weathering of granulites and granitic gneisses of southern Peninsular India. Curr Sci 93(4):523–531Google Scholar
  34. Pourret O, Dia A, Davranche M, Gruau G, Hénin O, Angée M (2007) Organo-colloidal control over major- and trace-element partitioning in shallow grounwaters: confronting ultrafiltration and modeling. Appl Geochem 22(8):1568–1582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rajesh R, Murthy TRS, Raghavan BR (2002) The utility of multivariate statistical techniques in hydrogeochemical studies: an example from Karnataka, India. Water Res 36:2437–2442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ramakrishnan M, Harinadhababu P (1981) Western Ghat belt. In: Swaminath J, Ramakrishnan M (eds) Early Precambriam Supracrustals of Southern Karnataka, 112th edn. Memorandum of Geological Survey of India, Kolkata, pp 147–161Google Scholar
  37. Ran Y, Fu JM, Sheng GY, Beckett R, Hart BT (2000) Fractionation and composition of colloidal and suspended particulate materials in rivers. Chemosphere 41:33–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rogers JJW, Callahan EJ, Dennen KO, Fullargar PD, Shroh TP, Wood LF (1986) Chemical evolution of Peninsular Gneiss in the western Dharwar Craton, Southern India. J Geol 94(2):233–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rondeau B, Cossa D, Gagnon P, Pham TT, Surette C (2005) Hydrological and biogeochemical dynamics of the minor and trace elements in the St. Lawrence River Applied Geochemistry 20(7):1391–1408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Seyler P, Elbaz-Poulichet F (1996) Biogeochemical control on the temporal variability of trace element concentrations in the Oubangui river (Central African Republic). J Hydrol 180:319–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shafer MM, Overdier JT, Hurley JP, Armstrong J, Webb D (1997) The influence of dissolved organic carbon, suspended particulates, and hydrology on the concentration, partitioning and variability of trace metals in two contrasting Wisconsin watersheds (USA). Chem Geol 136:71–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Shiller AM (1997) Dissolved trace elements in the Mississippi River: seasonal, interannual, and decadal variability. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 61:4321–4330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shiller AM, Boyle EA (1985) Dissolved zinc in rivers. Nature 317:49–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sholkovitz ER, Copland D (1982) The chemistry of suspended matter in Esthwaite water, a biologically productive lake with seasonally anoxic hypolimnion. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 46:393–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sigg L (1985) Metal transfer mechanisms in lakes: the role of settling particles. In: Stumm W (ed) Chemical processes in lakes. Wiley, New York, pp 283–310Google Scholar
  46. Tosiani T, Loubet M, Viers J, Valladon M, Tapia J, Marrero S, Yanesa C, Ramirez A, Dupré B (2004) Major and trace elements in river-borne materials from the Cuyuni basin (southern Venezuela): evidence for organo-colloidal control on the dissolved load and element redistribution between the suspended and dissolved load. Chem Geol 211:305–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tripti M, Lambs L, Otto T, Moussa I, Balakrishna K (2012) Role of dual monsoons on the sources of water and water vapor recycling across the Swarna river basin, Southwest India—a water isotope approach. In: Proceedings of Joint European Stable Isotope Users group Meeting 2012 (JESIUM-2012), Leipzig, Germany, 2–7 September, p 242Google Scholar
  48. Viers J, Dupré B, Deberdt S, Braun JJ, Angeletti B, Ndam Ngoupayou J, Michard A (2000) Major and traces elements abundances, and strontium isotopes in the Nyong basin rivers (Cameroon) constraints on chemical weathering processes and elements transport mechanisms inhumid tropical environments. Chem Geol 169:211–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. West AJ, Galy A, Bickle M (2005) Tectonic and climatic controls on silicate weathering. Earth Planet Sci Lett 235:211–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. World Health Organization (2011) Guidelines for drinking water quality, fourth edn. ISBN: 978 92 4 154815 1.Google Scholar
  51. Yan XP, Kerrich R, Hendry MJ (2000) Distribution of arsenic (III), arsenic (V) and total inorganic arsenic in pore waters from a thick till and clay-rich aquitard sequence, Saskatchewan, Canada. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 64:2637–2648CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • M Tripti
    • 1
  • G P Gurumurthy
    • 1
  • K Balakrishna
    • 1
    Email author
  • M D Chadaga
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civil Engineering, Manipal Institute of TechnologyManipal UniversityManipalIndia

Personalised recommendations