Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 17, Issue 7, pp 1905–1916 | Cite as

Sedimentary records of the Zrmanja River estuary, eastern Adriatic coast—natural vs. anthropogenic impacts

  • Željka FiketEmail author
  • Nevenka Mikac
  • Goran Kniewald
ISEB 2015: Biogeochemical Dynamics of Sediment-Water Systems: Processes and Modelling



Investigations of geochemical characteristics of sediments of the Zrmanja River estuary were done in order to determine the natural and anthropogenic factors influencing sediment composition in this area. For that purpose, spatial and temporal distribution of major and trace elements in the sediments and surrounding soils was studied.

Materials and methods

Sediment and soil samples, including one marl sample, were collected at 28 locations. All samples were subjected to total digestion and subsequently analysed by high-resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HR-ICP-MS) for total concentration of 20 elements (Ag, Al, As, Be, Ca, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Li, Mn, Ni, Pb, Rb, Sb, Sn, Sr, Ti and Y). Obtained concentrations and their normalized counterparts were used for assessment of factors influencing sedimentation in the study area.

Results and discussion

The results of the analysis showed that the composition of sediments of the Zrmanja River estuary is primarily determined by the composition of bedrock, existing hydrodynamic conditions and the relative isolation of the studied basin. Nevertheless, anthropogenic influences were observed as well. The composition of the Zrmanja River sediments reflects the impact of the ex-alumina factory “Jadral” and transfer by wind of the material from its immediate surroundings to the water system of the Zrmanja River. In addition, sedimentation in the Zrmanja River was found to be influenced by the construction of reservoirs and the HE “Velebit”, hydroelectric power plant located in the Zrmanja watershed.


The geochemical composition of recent sediments of the Zrmanja River estuary is controlled primarily by natural factors, although the influence of anthropogenic activities is also evident.


Adriatic coast Geochemistry Sediments Soils Trace elements Zrmanja River estuary 



Financial support from the Croatian Science Foundation through the project 7555 TRACESS is acknowledged. The authors acknowledge meteorological data provided by the Meteorological and Hydrological Service.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division for Marine and Environmental ResearchRuđer Bošković InstituteZagrebCroatia

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