Association of metals with geochemical phases in wetland soils of a Ramsar site in India
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Mobilization of metals in wetland ecosystems is a function of the behaviour of a specific metal species and is dependent largely on the prevailing micro-environmental conditions. Apparently, five different chemical forms of metals are known with varying affinity to binding sites, mobility, bioavailability and toxicity. Quantification of these forms of metals in the soils is imperative in predicting their biogeochemical fate and toxicity. In this context, we examined the association of Cu, Pb and Zn, with various geochemical phases in the soil profile of wetland system of Keoladeo National Park, a Ramsar site in India. The assessment covered the soil profile until 100 cm depth at every 25-cm intervals. Different operationally defined geochemical phases in the soil at different depths were examined during the study for respective metal concentrations. Hydrous oxides of Fe-Mn were the major carrier for all the three metals and the fraction associated with exchangeable phase was the least. The low organic matter content in the soil seems to be influencing the metal association with the organic matter (OM-S) phase, which was also a less preferred carrier for metals. For Cu (5.8–78.4%) and Pb (33.5–88.5%), Fe-Mn hydroxide phase was an important binding site and for Zn (31.02–79.03%), it was the silicate mineral matrix (RES phase). This suggests the importance of micro-environmental conditions in the wetland bed such as redox and pH in mobilization of metals. As metals such as Pb have high eco-toxicological potential, an assessment of fractional concentrations of metals provides insights into their mobility and bioavailability in aquatic ecosystems. This aids wetland managers to develop appropriate strategy to maintain quality of inflow water, the single most crucial factor for a wetland ecosystem, and thus controls the micro-environmental conditions.
KeywordsBioavailability Chemical fractionation Metals Sequential chemical extraction Wetland
The authors would like to thank Messers Brijendra Singh, Randhir Singh and Rajesh Singh for assisting during the fieldwork and Messers Jayalakshmi and Muthukumar during the laboratory analysis.
The funding support from Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India (Award No. 9/845(4)/06/EMR - I) to carry out the study is duly acknowledged. Subsequent financial assistance from Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Govt. of India (SERB No: SR/S0/AS-59/2011), and UNESCO-International Hydrological Programme enabled the team to generate other supportive datasets provided in this paper.
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