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Accumulation and metal fluxes in the central Venice Lagoon during the last century

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Samples from 18 short sediment cores were analyzed for major and trace metals (Al, Fe, Ca, K, Mg, Mn, Si, Ti, Pb, Zn, Cu, Ni, and Cr), 210 Pb, 137 Cs, total organic carbon, grain size, and mineralogical composition to find the record of major environmental changes, either natural or anthropogenic, and to establish their chronologies. Some sediments are characterized by nearly constant composition over time, but others clearly show signs of an increasing marine influence, as an increase of the carbonate contents, after the opening of the Malamocco–Marghera Canal in 1969. These changes sometimes obscure the real pattern of pollutants and tracers, which is revealed by normalization against Al. Zn is the most important contaminant, with concentration factors up to 9.3 times the background level, and the most contaminated sediments are those within a few kilometers from the industrial district of Porto Marghera. 210 Pb activity-depth profiles were used to calculate apparent accumulation rates that provide a basis for the assessment of metal fluxes. The sediments of several sites show a significant increase in anthropogenic metal contamination starting from the second decade of last century, with maximum inputs from 1930 to 1970. The decrease of heavy metal concentrations observed in surficial sediments of some sampling sites could be related to a recent reduction of pollutant inputs.

Keywords: Accumulation rates; Chronologies; Metal fluxes; Sediments; Venice Lagoon

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: CNR—Istituto di Scienze Marine, Sezione di Geologia Marina, Via Gobetti, 101-40129, Bologna, Italy 2: EU—Environment Institute, Joint Research Center Ispra, 21020, Ispra (VA), Italy

Publication date: 2005-12-01

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