Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 185, Issue 3, pp 2535–2552 | Cite as

Phosphorous speciation in surface sediments of the Cochin estuary

  • T. R. Gireeshkumar
  • P. M. Deepulal
  • N. Chandramohanakumar


Sequential chemical extraction using chelating agents were used to study the P dynamics and its bioavailability along the surface sediments of the Cochin estuary (southwest coast of India). Sediments were analyzed for major P species (iron bound P, calcium bound P, acid soluble organic P, alkali soluble organic P and residual organic P), Fe, Ca, total carbon, organic carbon, total nitrogen and total sulfur contents. An abrupt increase in the concentration of dissolved inorganic P with increasing salinity was observed in the study region. Iron-bound P exhibited a distinct seasonal pattern with maximum values in the monsoon season when fresh water condition was prevailed in the estuary. As salinity increased, the percentage of iron-bound P decreased, while that of calcium-bound P and total sedimentary sulfur increased. C/P and N/P ratios were low which indicate that large amounts of organic matter enriched with P tend to accumulate in surface sediments. The high organic P contribution in the sedimentary P pool may indicate high organic matter load with incomplete mineralization, as well as comparatively greater percentage of humic substance and resistant organic compounds. Principal component analysis is employed to find the possible processes influencing the speciation of P in the study region and indicate the following processes: (1) the spatial and seasonal variations of calcium bound P and acid soluble organic P was mainly controlled by sediment texture and organic carbon content, (2) sediment redox conditions control the distribution of iron bound P and (3) the terrigenous input of organic P is a significant processes controlling total P content in surface sediments. The bioavailable P was very high in the surface sediments which on an average accounts for 59 % in the pre-monsoon, 65 % in the monsoon and 53 % in the post-monsoon seasons. The surface sediments act as a potential internal source of P in the Cochin estuary.


Estuaries Eutrophication Phosphorous Chemical extraction Geochemistry 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the facilities and the support provided by the Director, School of Marine Sciences and the Dean, Faculty of Marine Sciences, Cochin University of Science and Technology.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. R. Gireeshkumar
    • 1
  • P. M. Deepulal
    • 1
  • N. Chandramohanakumar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Oceanography, School of Marine SciencesCochin University of Science and TechnologyKochiIndia

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