Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 132, Issue 1–3, pp 475–489 | Cite as

Heavy Metals Fractionation in Ganga River Sediments, India



The Ganga River is the largest river in India which, originates in the Himalayas and along with the Brahmaputra River, another Himalayan river, transports enormous amounts of sediments from the Indian sub-continent to the Bay of Bengal. Because of the important role of river sediments in the biogeochemical cycling of elements, the Ganga river sediments, collected from its origin to the down stretches, were studied in the present context, to assess the heavy metals associated with different chemical fractions of sediments. The fractionation of metals were studied in the sediments using SM&T protocol for the extraction of heavy metals and geo-accumulation index (GAI) (Muller, Schwermetalle in den sedimenten des rheins – Veranderungen seit. Umschau, 79, 778–783, 1979) and Metal Enrichment Factor (MEF) in different fractions were calculated. As with many river systems, residual fractions constitute more than 60% of total metals, except Zn, Cu and Cr. However, the reducible and organic and sulfide components also act as major sinks for metals in the down stretches of the river, which is supported by the high GAI and MEF values. The GAI values range between 4 and 5 and MEF exceed more than 20 for almost all the locations in the downstream locations indicating to the addition of metals through urban and industrial effluents, as compared to the low metals concentrations with less GAI and MEF in the pristine river sediments from the rivers in Himalayas.


Ganga River Sediments Heavy metals Metal fractionation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesIndian Institute of Technology RoorkeeRoorkeeIndia

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