The Dart estuary, Devon, UK: a case study of chemical dynamics and pollutant mobility
Abstract. Water, sediments and gill and digestive gland tissues of adult common shore crab (Carcinus maenas), collected at Noss Marina, Sandquay (Britannia Royal Naval College), the Dartmouth Pier, Warfleet Cove and Sugary Cove in the Dart estuary, Devon, UK, were analysed for major, minor and trace elements in spring 2004. Total acid-available measurements analysed included the truly dissolved component and acid-available sediments. Trace metal concentrations are associated largely with particulate and micro-particulate/colloidal phases, the latter being able to pass through standard filter papers. Wide ranges of chemical concentrations were found in the water, sediments and tissues at all the locations. In the water column, 48% of the variance is linked to the sea-salt component (Cl, Na, K, Ca, Mg, B, Li and Sr) and the sediment-associated acid-available fractions are linked to Fe-rich lithogenous materials (Ba, Co, Cu, Fe, Mn, V and Zn). In the sediments, trace elements of Cd, Co, Cr, Fe, Pb, Mn, Ni and V are correlated with the sea salts and associated with the fraction of fine sediments within the total sediment. In the gills and the digestive gland tissues of crabs, high concentrations of Al, Cu and Fe are found and there are correlations between acid-available trace metals of Cu, Cr, Fe, Mn, Ni, Sr and Zn. The relationships between trace metal contaminants, their site-specific concentrations, their temporal and spatial variability and the effects of human activities, such as moorland/agriculture with historic mining and recreational activities in the lower Dart estuary, are discussed.