Trace element biomonitoring using mosses in urban areas affected by mud volcanoes around Mt. Etna. The case of the Salinelle, Italy
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Trace element impact was assessed using mosses in a densely inhabited area affected by mud volcanoes. Such volcanoes, locally called Salinelle, are phenomena that occur around Mt. Etna (Sicily, Italy) and are interpreted as the surface outflow of a hydrothermal system located below Mt. Etna, releasing sedimentary fluids (hydrocarbons and NaCl brines) along with magmatic gases (mainly CO2 and He). To date, scarce data are available about the presence of trace elements, and no biomonitoring campaigns are reported about the cumulative effects of such emissions. In this study, concentrations of Al, As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, V, and Zn were detected in the moss Bryum argenteum, in soil and water. Results showed that the trace element contribution of the Salinelle to the general pollution was significant for Al, Mn, Ni, and Zn. The comparison of trace concentrations in mosses from Salinelle and Etna showed that the mud volcanoes release a greater amount of Al and Mn, whereas similar values of Ni were found. Natural emissions of trace elements could be hazardous in human settlements, in particular, the Salinelle seem to play an important role in environmental pollution.
KeywordsTrace elements Mud volcanoes Salinelle Etna Environmental pollution
This study was partially financed by the Italian Ministry of University and Scientific Research, grants no. 20206059003 (2007) and 20206059012 (2008). Authors wish to thank David Flynn for his useful suggestions, and Dr. Grazia Rita Messina for material provided and fieldwork.
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