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Storm-induced transfer of particulate trace metals to the deep-sea in the Gulf of Lion (NW Mediterranean Sea)

April 24, 2014

In order to calculate budgets of particulate matter and sediment-bound contaminants leaving the continental shelf of the Gulf of Lion (GoL), settling particles were collected in March 2011 during a major storm, using sediment traps. The collecting devices were deployed in the Cap de Creus submarine canyon, which represents the main export route. Particulate matter samples were analyzed to obtain mass fluxes and contents in organic carbon, Al, Cr, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb and La, Nd and Sm. The natural or anthropogenic origin of trace metals was assessed using enrichment factors (EFs). Results are that Zn, Cu and Pb appeared to be of anthropogenic origin, whereas Ni, Co and Cr appeared to be strictly natural. The anthropogenic contribution of all elements (except Cd) was refined by acid-leaching (HCl 1 N) techniques, confirming that Zn, Cu and Pb are the elements that are the most enriched. However, although those elements are highly labile (59–77 %), they do not reflect severe enrichment (EFs <4). Most particles originate from the Rhone River. This has been confirmed by two different tracing procedures using rare earth elements ratios and concentrations of acid-leaching residual trace metals. Our results hence indicate that even in this western extremity of the GoL, storm events mainly export Rhone-derived particles via the Cap de Creus submarine canyons to the deep-sea environments. This export of material is significant as it represents about a third of the annual PTM input from the Rhone River.

Dumas C, Aubert D, Durrieu de Madron X, Ludwig W, Heussner S, Delsaut N, Menniti C, Sotin C, Buscail R, in press: Storm-induced transfer of particulate trace metals to the deep-sea in the Gulf of Lion (NW Mediterranean Sea), Environmental Geochemistry and Health, doi:10.1007/s10653-014-9614-7. Article (subscription required).

 

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