Assessment of heavy metal contamination in surface sediments along the Mediterranean coast of Morocco

  • Mohammed Saddik
  • Ahmed FadiliEmail author
  • Abdelhadi Makan


In this paper, heavy metal contamination in surface sediments along the Mediterranean coast of Morocco was investigated. Determining pollution degree as well as heavy metal origins were the main objectives of this investigation. For this reason, concentrations of nine heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, Zn, Hg, Fe, and Mn) were analyzed at ten stations sampled during three different periods. The obtained concentrations showed significant variation between sampling periods, which was controlled by several environmental and chemical processes. According to contamination indices results using pollution load index (PLI), modified contamination degree (mCd), geoaccumulation index (Igeo), enrichment factor (EF), and potential ecological risk index (RI), sampling stations were classified between uncontaminated and strongly contaminated without detecting any intense heavy metal pollution in surface sediment. Likewise, the EF values were comprised between no enrichment and moderate to severe enrichment. According to sediment quality guidelines, the calculated M-ERM-Q indicated that heavy metal mixtures have between 9 and 49% probability for being toxic. This result revealed lowest to medium-low potential of adverse effects to biota populations. Regarding heavy metal origins, multivariate statistical investigation showed that Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb, and Zn are derived mainly from anthropogenic activities, while Fe, Mn, Cr, and Ni were derived from natural sources. Despite Cd is considered as a typical anthropogenic metal, the very low concentrations obtained in this study support the involvement of natural factor in the enrichment with this metal. Therefore, the surface sediments contamination along the Mediterranean coasts of Morocco is particularly caused by a combination of anthropogenic and natural factors. As a result, the study area can be considered as not significantly enriched by human activities.


Heavy metal Surface sediment pollution Ecological risk assessment Statistical analysis Contamination origins 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Team of Water and Environmental Management (G2E), National School of Applied Sciences (ENSAH)Abdelmalek Essaadi UniversityAl HoceimaMorocco

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