Dynamics and diagenesis of trace metals in sediments of the Changjiang Estuary

Sci Total Environ. 2019 Jul 20;675:247-259. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.190. Epub 2019 Apr 16.


The seasonal dynamics and diagenesis of trace metals at two contrasting coastal sites were studied to determine the mechanism that drove the diffusive release of trace metals from sediments in the Changjiang Estuary. Porewater trace metal concentrations were 53.4-4829 nM for Zn, 11.0-344 nM for Cu, 7.75-221 nM for Cr, 2.71-61.1 nM for Co, 0.822-42.7 nM for Pb and 0.037-4.22 nM for Cd. The concentrations and profiles of trace metals in the porewater and solid phase displayed obvious regional and seasonal variations. This variation was mainly reflected in the surface layer and the depth of the suboxic and anoxic layers. Regionally, surface porewater trace metal concentrations in the seasonal hypoxic region were higher than those in the aerobic region due to changes in the redox conditions being beneficial to the release of trace metals. Seasonally, surface porewater trace metal concentrations decreased in summer compared to spring due to their removal by forming metal sulfides in summer. Solid profiles of the trace metals supported their dynamic variations in the porewater. The partition coefficient suggested that the formation of Fe/Mn (hydr)oxides was effective for the removal of trace metal in oxidizing condition, while the formation of sulfides was conducive to the removal of trace metals in reducing condition. The combination of porewater with solid phase data suggested that the dynamics of Cu, Zn, Cr and Co were mainly controlled by Fe and Mn diagenesis, the dynamics of Cd were affected by S cycling, and the dynamics of Pb were disturbed by anthropogenic inputs and benthic organism activities. Estimation of benthic fluxes indicated that sediments were an important source of trace metals in the water column. The contributions of trace metals by sediments to the water column of the Changjiang Estuary were only one order of magnitude lower than those by riverine fluxes.

Keywords: Benthic fluxes; Early diagenesis; Porewater; Seasonal cycling; The Changjiang Estuary; Trace metals.