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Factors affecting metal accumulation, mobility and availability in intertidal wetlands of the Scheldt estuary (Belgium)
Du Laing, G.; Van de Moortel, A.; Lesage, E.; Tack, F.M.G.; Verloo, M.G. (2008). Factors affecting metal accumulation, mobility and availability in intertidal wetlands of the Scheldt estuary (Belgium), in: Vymazal, J. (Ed.) Wastewater Treatment, Plant Dynamics and Management in Constructed and Natural Wetlands. pp. 121-133. dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8235-1_11
In: Vymazal, J. (Ed.) (2008). Wastewater Treatment, Plant Dynamics and Management in Constructed and Natural Wetlands. Springer Science+Business Media: Netherlands. ISBN 978-1-4020-8234-4. 348 pp., more

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Document type: Conference paper

Keywords
    Marine; Brackish water
Author keywords
    Estuary; heavy metals; marsh; sediment; wetland

Authors  Top 
  • Du Laing, G., more
  • Van de Moortel, A., more
  • Lesage, E., more

Abstract
    We studied factors affecting the accumulation, mobility and availability of metals in intertidal wetlands of the Scheldt estuary (Belgium), both in greenhouse experiments and under field conditions. The surface layer of the intertidal Scheldt sediments was found to be significantly contaminated with trace metals. The metal concentrations can be predicted from clay or organic matter concentrations. They were somewhat higher than predicted at sites within a range of a few kilometres from specific point-sources of metals, whereas they were lower than predicted at sites which are regularly subjected to flooding by high salinity water. In the deeper sediment layers, sulphides seem to play an important role in the metal accumulation. Salts significantly increased the metal mobility in the oxidised sediment layers in the brackish part of the estuary, which was especially observed for cadmium (Cd). The decomposition of stems and leaves of reed plants and willows in the upper sediment layer was found to both increase and decrease the metal mobility. The concentrations in the reed litter itself increased significantly during decomposition under field conditions. The hydrological regime to which metal-polluted sediments were subjected, affected the metal concentrations in the pore water to an important extent. Flooding increased the mobility of iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni) and chromium (Cr) and decreased the mobility of Cd, copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) in a calcareous substrate. Fluctuating hydrological conditions resulted in fluctuating metal concentrations in the pore water. Reduction and oxidation of Fe and Mn, decomposition of carbonates and the formation and re-oxidation of sulphides were hereby the main controlling processes.

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