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Sediment Quality Assessment and Management: Insight and Progress Edited by M. Munawar© 2003 Ecovision World Monograph Series Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management Society Geochemical and surface properties of river sediments in eastern China J. Chen1, F. Wang2, Y. Zhang1 1 Department of Urban and Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, P.R.China. 2 Environmental Science Program and Dept. of Chemistry, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada. Keywords: elemental composition, geochemical substrate, surface property, Kendall partial rank correlation Introduction The chemical composition and properties of river sediments have received much attention since the late 1960s (Turekian and Scott, 1967; Moore, 1967; Morozov, 1969; Martin et al., 1973; Trefry and Presley, 1976; Wagemann et al., 1977; Gibbs, 1973). This is because of its role in giving insight into crustal weathering processes on local and global scales, in determining the elemental fluxes between land and ocean, and in comparing the river-borne material with the oceanic sediment (Strakhov, 1967; Garrels and Mackenzie, 1971; Martin and Meybeck, 1979). It is well documented that sediments play a key role in the sorption and transport of trace metals in the aquatic environment. Numerous studies have indicated that the fate, concentration, bioavailability and toxicity of trace metals in the sediments are also strongly influenced by the composition and properties of sediments. Surprisingly, although geochemical properties, including the grain size distribution, the contents of iron and manganese oxides, clay minerals and organic carbon, have been studied intensely in the last few decades, little information is available in the literature to date on the surface properties of natural aquatic sediments. Recent introduction of the surface complexation model into natural sediment-water systems has suggested that physical properties, especially surface properties of sediments may influence significantly the sorption of trace metals on sediment (Mouvet and Bourg, 1983; Loux et al., 1989; Wang et al., 140 1997a). Limited knowlege on the surface properties of sediments has undoubtedly restricted our ability to predict trace metal distribution in aquatic environment. This paper focuses mainly on providing some of the basic values of elemental composition, geochemical substrate components, surface properties and trace metal association of the relatively unpolluted sediments and analysing the relationship between sediment characteristics and trace metal concentrations. These results are useful in understanding the natural background levels of trace metals in Chinese river sediments, in providing baselines for contamination assessment, and giving insight into the fate of trace metal in sediments. The river drainage areas studied in this work cover a wide spectrum of physical geographical zones from the cold snowy forest climate and dark brown earth in the northeast China to the moist tropical climate and red earth in the southeast China. This situation has certainly contributed to the geographical variation of river sediment characteristics. Efforts are taken to explain the variation. The paper also presents a statistical analysis on the relationships between sediment characteristics and metal concentrations in oxic waters with emphasis on interpreting the interrelations among sediment characteristics. Material and methods Sediment sampling A total of 42 geographically diverse sediment samples (including suspended sediments and surficial bed sediments) were collected from the relatively unpolluted reaches of 11 major rivers in eastern China during the summer flood seasons of 1992. The rivers under study included, from north to south, the Heilongjiang (Amur), Nenjiang, Songhuajiang, Luanhe, Huanghe (the Yellow River), Huaihe, Changjiang (the Yangtze River), Qintangjiang, Minjiang, Beijiang and Zhujiang (the Pearl River) (Figure 1). The basins of these rivers cover a wide spectrum of geographical zones from the cold temperature region in north-eastern to the subtropical zone in south-eastern China. The sampling sites were selected in relatively stable depositional areas and far from all known point pollution sources. At each station, 20-50 litres of river surface water were filtered through a 0.45 μm membrane filter of cellulose acetate to collect the suspended sediment samples. Surficial bed sediment samples were scooped directly below the water surface from the top 5 cm of sediment samples by a polypropylene scoop and placed in polyethylene bags (Thomas and Meybeck, 1992). Two issues (the representativeness of samples and the methods of sample conservation) should be noted. In this study we sampled a total of 42 sediment samples, equal to three, four or five samples from each river. In order to assess the 141 Fig. 1. Sediment sampling sites. 142 representativeness of the samples, Li et al. (1984) and Qu and Yan (1990) reported that the coefficients of variation for the contents of most elements...


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