Assessing heavy metal contamination in the Sand Bay area of the Bristol Channel with reference to grain size and organic carbon

Swan, Laura (2007) Assessing heavy metal contamination in the Sand Bay area of the Bristol Channel with reference to grain size and organic carbon. BSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    Marine pollution is an issue of environmental concern in an ever more industrialised society. There is known to be a relationship between heavy metal contamination and sediment grain size but this study aims to investigate the strength of the relationship in the Bristol Channel, with reference to Sand Bay due to its scientific and environmental importance for birds and salt marsh. A total of 45 surface sediment samples were collected along three distinct transects. Particle size measurement was undertaken using the wet sieving technique and then laser analysis. Organic matter was calculated as a percentage through the loss on ignition method and heavy metal contamination was analysed using Atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS). Secondary research was also carried out forming a literature review which enabled hypotheses to be formulated. It was hypothesised that heavy metal concentration would have an inverse relationship to both grain size and organic carbon. The findings of this research project show that there is an inverse relationship between grain size and heavy metal concentration. Cadmium was omitted from the study due to negligible contamination at the site. Aluminium was found to be the element that had the strongest correlation to both grain size and organic carbon. Sediments with grain size below [mu]m have a high surface area and hence heavy metals have an increased ability to be absorbed onto particle surfaces. Organic carbon within sediments was also found to have an inverse relationship with grain size again due to the increased surface area of silt and clay minerals. Pollution at Sand Bay was found to mostly be caused by atmospheric fallout, industrial activity and urban sewage.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Department of Geography
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:47
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:13
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/384

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