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Mar Environ Res. 2008 Dec;66 Suppl:S87-100. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2008.08.001. Epub 2008 Aug 12.

Sediment redox tracers in Strait of Georgia sediments--can they inform us of the loadings of organic carbon from municipal wastewater?

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1
Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Institute of Ocean Sciences, P.O. Box 6000, Sidney, BC, Canada V8L 4B2. robie.macdonald@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Abstract

Organic carbon composition and redox element (Mn, Cd, U, Re, Mo, SigmaS, AVS) distributions are examined in seven 210Pb-dated box cores collected from the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia to evaluate the potential for redox elements to reveal impacts of anthropogenic loadings of labile organic carbon to sediments. In particular, the cores have been collected widely including regions far from local anthropogenic inputs and from locations within the zone of influence of two municipal outfalls where sediments are exposed to enhanced organic loadings from outfalls. We find a wide natural range in organic carbon forcing within the basin sediments generally reflected as Mn enrichments near the surface in cores exhibiting slow organic oxidation and sulphide, Cd, Mo, U and Re enrichments in cores exhibiting higher organic oxidation rates. Concentration profiles for redox elements or organic carbon are misleading by themselves, as they are influenced strongly by sediment porosity and sedimentation rate, and the organic matter remaining in sediment cores is predominantly recalcitrant. Fluxes of redox elements together with rates of organic metabolism estimated from sedimentation rates provide a better picture of the organic forcing. One core, GVRD-3, collected within the zone of influence of the Iona municipal outfall (0.5 km away), exhibits the highest organic carbon oxidation rates, enhanced Ag fluxes in the sediment surface mixed layer and altered delta15N composition, all of which implicate outfall particulates. Cd is also elevated in the GVRD-3 surface sediments, but evidence points to contamination and not redox forcing supporting this observation. Uranium also shows enrichment at sites near the outfalls, possibly in response to enhanced microbial metabolism. Predominantly these cores exhibit a wide natural range of organic carbon fluxes and organic carbon oxidation rates, supported by fluxes of marine and terrigenous organic carbon, within which it is difficult to identify any significant impact from municipal outfall organic carbon.

PMID:
18804858
DOI:
10.1016/j.marenvres.2008.08.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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