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Mobility of trace elements between the river water, the sediments, and the pore water of Las Catonas Stream, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina

Cantera, Cecilia G., Scasso, Roberto A., Tufo, Ana, Villalba, Laura B., dos Santos Afonso, Maria
Environmental earth sciences 2018 v.77 no.14 pp. 535
arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, glass, heavy metals, illite, kaolinite, nitrogen, organic carbon, porous media, quartz, river water, rivers, sediments, smectite, streams, surface area, water pollution, Argentina
The composition of river water, sediments, and pore waters (down to 30 cm below the bed) of Las Catonas Stream was studied to analyze the distribution of trace elements in a peri-urban site. The Las Catonas Stream is one of the main tributaries of Reconquista River, a highly polluted water course in the Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. The semi-consolidated Quaternary sediments of the Luján Formation are the main source of sediments for Las Catonas Stream. The coarse-grained fraction in the sediments is mainly composed of tosca (calcretes), intraclasts, bone fragments, glass shards, quartz, and aggregates of fine-grained sediments together with considerably amounts of vegetal remains. The clay minerals are illite, illite–smectite, smectite, and kaolinite. For the clay-sized fraction, the external surface area values are mostly between 70 and 110 m²g⁻¹, although the fraction at 15 cm below the bottom of the river shows a lower surface area of 12 m²g⁻¹. The N₂ adsorption–desorption isotherms at 77 K for this sample display a behavior indicative of non-porous or macroporous material, whereas the samples above and below present a typical behavior of mesoporous materials with pores between parallel plates (slit-shaped). As, Cr, Cu, and Cd concentrations increase down to 15 cm depth in the sediments, where the highest trace element and total organic carbon (TOC) concentrations were found, and then decrease toward the bottom of the core. Except for As, the levels of the other heavy metals show higher concentration in surficial waters than in pore waters. Distribution coefficients between the sediments, pore water, and surficial water phases indicate that As is released from the sediments to the pore and surficial waters. Cu content strongly correlates with TOC (mainly from vegetal remains), suggesting that this element is mainly bound to the organic phase.