Spatial and temporal variations in metals in the sediment and water of selected Eastern Cape Estuaries, South Africa

by Orr, K. K.

Abstract (Summary)
The spatio-temporal patterns in concentrations of selected metals within the sediment (Cd, Co, Cu, Fe, Pb, Ni and Zn) and water (Cd and Pb) of three permanently open estuaries (Kariega, Kowie, Great Fish) and six temporary open-closed estuaries (Mpekweni, East Kleinemonde, West Kleinemonde, Riet, Kasouga, Boknes) were investigated. The concentrations of metals were influenced by size composition and total organic content of the sediments. Enrichment factors (EFs), using Fe as a reference element, and baseline linear regression models for metals vs. Fe were calculated to assess the extent of metal enrichment in the sediments.

The mean concentrations of metals in the sediments(mg·kg[superscript -1]) showed ranges of 0.28 – 2.31 for Cd, 1.26 – 6.24 Co, 0.69 – 6.93 for Cu, 2119 – 14912 for Fe, 2.29 –14.01 for Ni, 4.81 – 22.20 for Pb and 5.77 – 21.75 for Zn. Mean normalized enrichment factors ranged between 0.75 – 6.19 for Cd, 0.53 – 2.71 for Co, 0.22 – 0.84 for Cu, 0.30 – 1.87 for Ni, 0.99 – 3.17 for Pb and 0.14 – 0.98 for Zn. All nine estuaries had average enrichment factors of greater than 1 for Cd. In general there was no enrichment of Cu and Zn in the sediments of any of the estuaries included in this study (EFs < 1). The Kariega, East Kleinemonde, West Kleinemonde, Riet and Great Fish Estuaries showed some degree of enrichment for Co (1 < EF < 4), Ni (1 < EF < 2) and Pb (1 < EF < 4), while the Mpekweni, Kasouga, Boknes and Kowie Estuaries were unenriched with these metals (EF < 1). Enrichment factors for Cd, Co and Pb typically followed the development gradient along the estuaries, suggesting anthropogenic enrichment.

The concentrations of Cd and Pb in the water of the nine estuaries were also determined. The average concentrations of Cd and Pb in the water (?g·?[superscript -1]) ranged between 0.05 – 3.32 and 0.75 – 34.13 respectively. On average the concentrations of Cd and Pb in the water of all the estuaries were below the South African recommended water quality guidelines for coastal marine waters.

Variations in metal concentrations associated with changes in hydrology (wet vs. dry season) were determined in the water and sediment of the Kariega, East Kleinemonde and Riet Estuaries. Cobalt, Pb and Ni enrichment in the Kariega Estuary sediment was significantly higher during the dry season, and the mean concentrations of Pb and Cd in the water column were 19-fold and 66-fold higher in the dry season. The elevated concentration of metals during the dry season could be related to accumulation of diffuse pollution from human activities within the catchment area. Conversely, inflow of fresh water into the estuary had the net effect of reducing the concentration and enrichment of these metals within the Kariega Estuary due to scouring and outflow of estuarine water and sediment into the marine environment. The temporal variations in metal concentrations and enrichment factors were less pronounced in the temporary open-closed estuaries than the permanently open Kariega Estuary. The observed trend can probably be related to the low anthropogenic impact within the catchment areas of these systems, and the relatively smaller size of the catchments. Significant spatial variations existed in metal enrichment in the sediment of both the East Kleinemonde and Riet estuaries, with the highest degrees of enrichment occurring in the sediments from the marine environment and lower reaches.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:zoology entomology


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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