Evaluations of Submarine Groundwater Discharge and Associated Heavy Metal Fluxes in Bohai Bay, China

Sci Total Environ. 2019 Dec 10;695:133873. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.133873. Epub 2019 Aug 11.


Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) has been recognized as an important source of dissolved heavy metals to the coastal ocean. Bohai Bay, the second largest bay of Bohai Sea in China, is subjected to serious environmental problems. However, SGD and SGD-derived heavy metal fluxes in the bay are seldom reported. In this study, we present mass balance models considering the radium losses caused by recirculated seawater to estimate water age, SGD and SGD-derived heavy metal fluxes in Bohai Bay during May 2017. The water age is estimated to be 56.7-85.0 days based on tidal prism model. By combining water and salt mass balance models, submarine fresh groundwater discharge (SFGD) is estimated to be (3.5-9.3) × 107 m3 d-1. The SGD flux estimated by the radium mass balance models is (3.2-7.7) × 108 m3 d-1, an order of magnitude larger than the discharge of the Yellow River during the sampling period. SGD-derived heavy metal fluxes were estimated to be (0.2-6.0) × 107 mol d-1 for Fe, (1.2-2.7) × 107 mol d-1 for Mn, (3.0-8.2) × 105 mol d-1 for Zn, (2.7-7.4) × 104 mol d-1 for Cr and (0.6-1.8) × 103 mol d-1 for Cd, which are significantly higher than those from local rivers. This study reveals that SGD is a significant source of heavy metals (Mn, Zn and Fe) into Bohai Bay, which may have important influences on the metal budgets and ecological environments in coastal areas.

Keywords: Bohai Bay; Heavy metals; Radium isotopes; Submarine fresh groundwater discharge; Submarine groundwater discharge; Water age.