Contrasting Sources and Mobility of Trace Metals in Recent Sediments of Western Lake Erie

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Journal of Great Lakes Research


Concentrations of the major and trace metals varied considerably in the western basin of Lake Erie, ranging from 0.9 to 25.3 mg/g for aluminum, from 2.9 to 36.5 mg/g for iron, from 6.4 to 74.8 mg/g for calcium, from 1.2 to 13.5 mu g/g for cobalt, from 2.8 to 61.6 mu g/g for copper, from 2.7 to 83.0 mu g/g for lead, from 0.1 to 2.9 mu g/g for cadmium, and from 7.1 to 127.3 mu g/g for strontium. Distinct patterns of sediment metal variability allowed the identification of two major fluvial sources and some active in-lake biogeochemical processes. The inputs of Sr were largely from the Maumee River, the inputs of Cu, Pb, Cd, and Co were dominated by the Detroit River, and the inputs of Fe and Al were roughly evenly from the two rivers. The removal of Sr and Ca from the water column was mainly through coprecipitation with calcite. In contrast, the transfer of Cu, Pb, Cd, and Co was largely attributed to the removal of fine sediment particles from the Detroit River mouth and adjacent nearshore areas and the deposition of the metals scavenged by settling organic materials in the basin's central deeper areas. The mobility of the trace metals was different during the in-lake mass transfer, with Co being the most mobile and Cd being the least mobile. Furthermore, the trace metal mobility differences have decreased significantly during the past half-century due to a substantial increase in organic matter from eutrophication in the basin. (C) 2018 International Association for Great Lakes Research.


This work was supported by a research award from the Ohio Sea Grant College Program (R/ER-116), an award from State Key Laboratory of Limnology and Environment Open Foundation of NIGLAS (2016SKL004), and an undergraduate summer research award from Cleveland State University.