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Mobility of metal(loid)s at the sediment-water interface in two tourist port areas of the Gulf of Trieste (northern Adriatic Sea)

Abstract

One of the main environmental issues affecting coastal marine environments is the accumulation of contaminants in sediments and their potential mobility. In situ benthic chamber experiments were conducted at two tourist ports (marinas) located in the Gulf of Trieste, one in Slovenia and one in Italy. The aim was to understand if and where recycling at the sediment-water interface (SWI) may affect metal(loid)s. Short sediment cores were also collected near the chamber to investigate the solid (sediments) and dissolved phases (porewaters). Both diffusive and benthic fluxes were estimated to elucidate the release of metal(loid)s at the SWI. Total element concentrations and their labile fractions were determined in sediments to quantify their potential mobility. The total element contents were found to be two orders of magnitude higher in the Italian marina than in the Slovenian one, especially for Hg (up to 1000 mg kg−1), whereas the labile fraction was scarce or null. The opposite occurred in the Slovenian marina. Metal(loid)s in porewaters showed a clear diagenetic sequence and a close dependence upon the suboxic/anoxic conditions of sediments. The results suggest that although the sediments of the Italian marina exhibit the highest total metal(loid) concentration, these elements are scarcely remobilisable. Conversely, in the Slovenian marina, sediments seem to be comparatively more prone to release metal(loid)s at the SWI.

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Acknowledgements

The research activity was partially supported by the University of Trieste (Finanziamento di Ateneo per progetti di ricerca scientifica - FRA 2014, ref. Stefano Covelli). We are grateful to the management of the Portorož and Porto San Rocco marinas for their availability and hospitality. Karry Close is warmly acknowledged for proofreading the manuscript and Alessandro Acquavita for his help in preparing the manuscript. We are also grateful to the anonymous reviewers who provided useful comments and criticisms which improved the quality of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Stefano Covelli.

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Petranich, E., Croce, S., Crosera, M. et al. Mobility of metal(loid)s at the sediment-water interface in two tourist port areas of the Gulf of Trieste (northern Adriatic Sea). Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 26887–26902 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-2717-4

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Keywords

  • Port areas
  • Sediment-water interface
  • Contamination
  • Metal(loid)s
  • Benthic fluxes