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Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 68, Issue 4, pp 1053–1063 | Cite as

Seasonal and spatial dynamics of trace elements in water and sediment from Pearl River Estuary, South China

  • Dawen Zhang
  • Xia Zhang
  • Lei Tian
  • Feng Ye
  • Xiaoping Huang
  • Yanyi Zeng
  • Minling Fan
Original Article

Abstract

In this study, spatial and seasonal dynamics of trace elements (Cu, Pb, Zn, Cd, As) in water and sediments were examined in the Pearl River Estuary (PRE), South China. The spatial variations of all the studied trace elements in sediments show the general decrease pattern from northwest to southeast side of the PRE, suggesting that the main sources of these trace elements may originate from terrestrial (rock and soil) weathering and human activities (e.g. agricultural, industrial and municipal wastewaters) via riverine inputs. The dissolved Cu, Pb, Cd, As, and Zn in PRE ranged from 0.34 to 3.26, 0.19 to 4.58, 0.0015 to 0.30, 0.16 to 8.18, 3.74 to 36.10 μg/L, respectively. There are obvious seasonal changes of dissolved trace elements in the PRE aquatic system. The maximum seasonal averages of all the dissolved trace elements excluding Zn were observed in summer, whereas dissolved Zn showed the minimum in this season. The overall spatial pattern of all the dissolved trace elements excluding Zn demonstrates decreasing trends from inshore to offshore, and the highest concentrations of dissolved Cu, Cd, As, and Zn appeared in the western part of PRE or the mouths of Pearl River, suggesting strong riverine and anthropogenic local inputs. PCA and correlation analysis show that the geochemical behavior of dissolved Cu and As are complicated and the dynamics of these two elements are controlled by various physicochemical parameters, whereas physicochemical parameters might play a relatively small role in the distributions of other studied trace elements.

Keywords

Trace elements Spatial variations Seasonal changes Sediments Pearl River Estuary 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Sincere thanks are given to Wu Meilin, Lin Li, Deng Chao, Peng Yalan, and Wang Yutu for providing fieldwork support. This research was supported by both the Project of Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant NO. KZCX2-YW-Q07) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41076069 and 40776086).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dawen Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xia Zhang
    • 1
  • Lei Tian
    • 1
    • 3
  • Feng Ye
    • 1
  • Xiaoping Huang
    • 1
  • Yanyi Zeng
    • 1
  • Minling Fan
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Institute for Quality & Safety and Standards of Agricultural Products ResearchJiangxi Academy of Agricultural SciencesNanchangPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Shaanxi Research Design Institute of Petroleum and Chemical IndustryXi’anPeople’s Republic of China

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