Hydrological and biogeochemical dynamics of the minor and trace elements in the St. Lawrence River

Type Article
Date 2005-07
Language English
Author(s) Rondeau B2, Cossa Daniel1, Gagnon P2, Pham T2, Surette C2
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, F-44311 Nantes, France.
2 : Environm Canada, St Lawrence Ctr, Montreal, PQ H2Y 2E7, Canada.
Source Applied Geochemistry (0883-2927) (Elsevier), 2005-07 , Vol. 20 , N. 7 , P. 1391-1408
DOI 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2005.02.011
WOS© Times Cited 35
Keyword(s) St. Lawrence, Mass balance, River, Biogeochemistry, Trace element
Abstract Surface water samples from the St. Lawrence River were collected in order to study the processes controlling minor and trace elements concentrations (Al, Fe, Mn, Cd, Co, Cu, Ni and Zn), and to construct mass balances allowing estimates of the relative importance of their natural and anthropogenic sources. The two major water inputs, the upper St. Lawrence River, which drains waters originating from the Lake Ontario, and the Ottawa River were collected fortnightly over 18 months. In addition, other tributaries were sampled during the spring floods. The output was monitored near Quebec City at the river mouth weekly between 1995 and 1999. Dissolved metal concentrations in the upper St. Lawrence River carbonated waters were lower than in the acidic waters of the tributaries draining the crystalline rocks of the Canadian shield and the forest cover. Biogeochemical and hydrodynamic processes occurring in Lake Ontario drive the seasonal variations observed in the upper St. Lawrence River. Biogeochemical processes relate to biological uptake, regeneration of organic matter (for Cd and Zn) and oxyhydroxide formation (for Mn and Fe), while hydrodynamic processes mainly concern the seasonal change in vertical stratification (for Cd, Mn, and Zn). In the Ottawa River, the main tributary, oxyhydroxide formation in summer governs seasonal patterns of Al, Fe, Mn, Cd, Co and Zn. The downstream section of the St. Lawrence River is a transit zone in which seasonal variations are mainly driven by the mixing of the different water masses and the large input of suspended particulate matter from erosion. The budget of all dissolved elements, except Fe and Zn, was balanced, as the budget of particulate elements (except Cd and Zn). The main sources of metals to the St. Lawrence River are erosion and inputs from tributaries and Lake Ontario. Direct anthropogenic discharges into the river accounted for less than 5% of the load, except for Cd (10%) and Zn (21%). The fluxes in transfer of dissolved Cd, Co, Cu and Zn species from the river to the lower St. Lawrence estuary were equal to corresponding fluxes calculated for Quebec City since the distributions of dissolved concentrations of these metals versus salinity were conservative. For Fe, the curvature of the dilution line obtained suggests that dissolved species were removed during early mixing..
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