Heavy metal distribution and early-diagenesis in salt marsh sediments from the Medway Estuary, Kent, UK

K. Spencer, Andrew Cundy, I.W. Croudace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Salt marsh cores are increasingly being used to study metal pollution chronologies. Salt marshes in macro-tidal estuaries, however, tend to retain a time-integrated or ‘smoothed’ signal rather than a record of discrete pollutant inputs, due to extensive sediment reworking. More generally, an accurate chronology of metal input to salt marsh sediments can be difficult to assess because of the potential early-diagenetic mobility of both the radionuclides used for dating and the contaminants of interest. A dated salt marsh core from the macro-tidal Medway Estuary, southeast England, was assessed using both total sediment metal data and partitioning data. These data indicate that both Mn and Fe have been significantly remobilised and that these diagenetic processes have slightly modified the vertical distributions of Cu, Pb and Zn. Zinc is the most diagenetically reactive followed by Cu and then Pb. However, general trends in pollutant loading can still be identified with maximum inputs occurring between ca. 1900 and 1950, decreasing towards the present day.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalEstuarine coastal and shelf science
Volume57
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - May 2003

Keywords

  • heavy metals
  • lead-210
  • Caesium-137
  • sediment pollution
  • diagenetic mobility
  • partitioning
  • Medway Estuary

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