The elemental composition of freshwater and saltwater samples around the South Pacific island of Upolu, Samoa has been investigated together with other indicators of water quality. Up to 69 elements from Li (3) to U (92) are measured in each sample, analyzed by Mattauch-Herzog-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (MH-ICP-MS). One hundred and seventy-six samples were collected from surface freshwater sources (24 rivers, two volcanic lakes, one dam) and from seawater sources from the surface to 30 m depth (45 inner reef, reef, and outer reef locations) around Upolu Island, including river mouths and estuaries. Principal component and hierarchical clustering correlation analyses were performed on quantile normalized log transformed elemental composition data to identify groups of samples with similar characteristics and to improve the visualization of the full spectrum of elements. Human activities, such as the use of herbicides and pesticides, may relate to observed elevated concentrations of some elements contained in chemicals known to have deleterious obesogenic effects on humans that may also cause coral reef decline. Furthermore, the salinity of some saltwater samples tested were very high, possibly due to climate variability, which may additionally harm the health and biodiversity of coral reefs.
Keywords: MH-ICP-MS; Samoa; Upolu Island; biosecurity; coral reefs; elemental analysis; freshwater; saltwater; water quality.