Toxic metals in a highly urbanized industry-impacted estuary (Bahia Blanca Estuary, Argentina): spatio-temporal analysis based on GIS

  • Melisa Daiana Fernández Severini
  • María Elizabeth Carbone
  • Diana Mariel Villagran
  • Jorge Eduardo Marcovecchio
Thematic Issue


Cadmium, chromium, nickel, and lead were evaluated in the particulate fraction at one of the most industrialized estuaries at the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean, through Geographic Information System (GIS). Concentrations were analyzed at 21 stations during 2008–2010. The highest metal concentrations (Cd: 8,9; Cr: 256,49; Ni: 27,02; Pb: 78,43 µg g− 1 d. w.) were recorded at the stations located near industrial and urban discharges situated along the estuary. In addition, Pb presented a different seasonal and spatial behavior in comparison with Cd, Cr and Ni. Winter and spring presented the higher concentrations of Pb, and the inner stations presented the higher values. The estuary is considered a moderate to strongly polluted and significantly polluted according to the Index of geoaccumulation (Igeo) and the Enrichment Factor of Cd, respectively. The Multidimensional Scaling plot showed three groups of stations: the inner, associated to low levels of metals (G1), middle stations (G2) with intermediate levels and the outer (G3) with the highest ones. In addition, this work reveals the usefulness of the GIS-mapping techniques in the distribution of pollutants along an estuarine environment and the environmental quality assessment of estuarine systems.


Heavy metals Suspended particulate matter GIS Pollution Estuary 



This work was supported by Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica, Argentina (ANPCyT, Préstamo BID, PICT 2006, No 945) granted to JEM. We thank RO Asteasuain and MN Chiarello for the valuable assistance in the field and laboratory work.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Argentino de Oceanografía (IADO)Universidad Nacional del Sur (UNS)-CONICETBahía BlancaArgentina
  2. 2.Departamento de Geografía y TurismoUniversidad Nacional del Sur (UNS)Bahía BlancaArgentina
  3. 3.Facultad Regional Bahía Blanca (UTN-FRBB)Universidad Tecnológica NacionalBahía BlancaArgentina
  4. 4.Universidad FASTAMar del PlataArgentina

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