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Latin american journal of aquatic research

On-line version ISSN 0718-560X


VALDES, Jorge  and  SIFEDDINE, Abdel. Elemental composition and metal contents in the marine sediments of Mejillones del Sur Bay, Chile: an environmental assessment of the coastal zone. Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res. [online]. 2009, vol.37, n.2, pp.131-141. ISSN 0718-560X.

The total carbon, total nitrogen, total sulphur, organic matter, Ni, Cd, Pb, Cu, and Zn concentrations were measured in coastal sediments (10 m water depth) at eight stations in Mejillones Bay. The elemental composition of these sediments is a function of the autochthonous organic matter generated in this coastal system. The order of abundance for the metals was: Zn > Cu > Ni > Pb > Cd. The metal content is not explained by the organic matter content or grain size of these coastal sediments. The evaluation of the concentration metals in the sediments showed that Ni, Zn, and Pb are slightly enriched at the present, although with values that are similar to preindustrial concentrations. A cluster analysis of the similarity in the study area separated the Mejillones coast into two main zones: one related to the industrial activity developed in this bay and the other related to the urban develop of Mejillones city, with characteristics similar to environments free of direct human activity.

Keywords : marine sediments; heavy metals; elemental analysis; Mejillones; Chile.

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