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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-231
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-231
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  21 Jul 2020

21 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Enrichment of trace metals from acid sulphate soils in sediments of the Kvarken Archipelago, eastern Gulf of Bothnia, Baltic Sea

Joonas J. Virtasalo1, Peter Österholm2, Aarno T. Kotilainen1, and Mats E. Åström3 Joonas J. Virtasalo et al.
  • 1Marine Geology, Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), Espoo, 02150, Finland
  • 2Department of Geology and Mineralogy, Åbo Akademi University, 5 Turku, 20500, Finland
  • 3Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, 39182, Sweden

Abstract. Rivers draining the acid sulphate soils of western Finland are known to deliver large amounts of trace metals with detrimental environmental consequences to the recipient estuaries in the eastern Gulf of Bothnia, northern Baltic Sea. However, the distribution of these metals in the coastal sea area, and the relevant metal transport mechanisms have been less studied. This study investigates the spatial and temporal distribution of metals in 9 sediment cores, collected from the Kvarken Archipelago, which is the recipient of Laihianjoki and Sulvanjoki Rivers that are impacted by acid sulphate soils. The contents of Cd, Co, Cu, La, Mn, Ni and Zn increase in the cores during the 1960s and 1970s as a consequence of intensive artificial drainage of the acid sulphate soil landscape. The metal deposition has remained at the high level since the 1980s. The metal enrichment in seafloor sediments is currently visible at least 25 km seaward from the river mouths. Comparison to sediment quality guidelines shows that the metal contents are very likely to cause detrimental effects on marine biota more than 12 km out from the river mouths. The dynamic sedimentary environment of the shallow archipelago makes these sediments potential future sources of metals to the ecosystem. Finally, the strong association of metals and nutrients to the same sediment grain size class of 2–6 µm indicates that the transformation of dissolved organic matter and metals to metal-organic aggregates at the river mouths is the key mechanism of seaward trace metal transport, in addition to co-precipitation with Mn-oxyhydroxides identified in previous studies. The large share of terrestrial organic carbon of the total organic C in these sediments (interquartile range = 39–48 %) highlights the importance of riverine organic matter supply. These findings are important for the estimation of environmental risks and the management of biologically-sensitive coastal sea ecosystems.

Joonas J. Virtasalo et al.

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Joonas J. Virtasalo et al.

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Short summary
Rivers draining the acid sulphate soils of western Finland deliver large amounts of metals (e.g. Cd, Co, Cu, La, Mn, Ni and Zn) to the coastal sea. To better understand metal enrichment in the seafloor, we analysed metal contents and grain size distribution in 9 sediment cores. The metal contents increase in the 1960s and 1970s, and stay at the high levels afterwards. The enrichment is visible > 25 km out from the river mouths. Organic aggregates are identified as the key seaward metal carriers.
Rivers draining the acid sulphate soils of western Finland deliver large amounts of metals (e.g....
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