Miguel García, Eduardo de and Charlesworth, Susanne and Ordóñez, Almudena and Seijas, Eduardo
Geochemical fingerprints and controls in the sediments of an urban river: River Manzanares, Madrid (Spain).
"Science of the Total Environment", v. 340
The geochemical fingerprint of sediment retrieved from the banks of the River Manzanares as it passes through the City of Madrid is presented here. The river collects the effluent water from several Waste Water Treatment (WWT) plants in and around the city, such that, at low flows, up to 60% of the flow has been treated. A total of 18 bank-sediment cores were collected along the course of the river, down to its confluence with the Jarama river, to the south–east of Madrid. Trace and major elements in each sample were extracted following a double protocol: (a) “Total” digestion with HNO3, HClO4 and HF; (b) “Weak” digestion with sodium acetate buffered to pH=5 with acetic acid, under constant stirring. The digests thus obtained were subsequently analysed by ICP-AES, except for Hg which was extracted with aqua regia and sodium chloride-hydroxylamine sulfate, and analysed by Cold Vapour-AAS. X-ray diffraction was additionally employed to determine the mineralogical composition of the samples. Uni- and multivariate analyses of the chemical data reveal the influence of Madrid on the geochemistry of Manzanares' sediments, clearly manifested by a marked increase in the concentration of typically “urban” elements Ag, Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn, downstream of the intersection of the river with the city's perimeter. The highest concentrations of these elements appear to be associated with illegal or accidental dumping of waste materials, and with the uncontrolled incorporation of untreated urban runoff to the river. The natural matrix of the sediment is characterised by fairly constant concentrations of Ce, La and Y, whereas changes in the lithology intersected by the river cause corresponding variations in Ca–Mg and Al–Na contents. In the final stretch of the river, the presence of carbonate materials seems to exert a strong geochemical control on the amount of Zn and, to a lesser extent, Cu immobilised in the sediments. This fact suggests that a variable but significant proportion of both elements may be susceptible to reincorporation in the aqueous phase under realistic environmental conditions.