Geochemical assessment of metal pollution and ecotoxicology in sediment cores along Karachi Coast, Pakistan

  • Azhar Mashiatullah
  • Muhammad Zaman Chaudhary
  • Nasir Ahmad
  • Nisar Ahmad
  • Tariq Javed
  • Abdul Ghaffar


This paper is an attempt to compare the pollution status in two sediment cores, one from a polluted site (Ghizri Creek) and another from a relatively unpolluted site (Sandspit). Sediment cores (45 cm in length) from coastal locations were characterized in terms of grain size, sediment composition, pH, organic matter, calcium carbonate, and metal element contents. Metal elements, including Al, Ca, Cr, Co Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Ni, Pb, V, Ti, and Zn, were determined using PIXE. Grain size analysis and sediment composition demonstrated a sandy nature of both cores. Acidic trend in sediment core I was predominant from bottom to top, whereas neutral pH was observed throughout core II. TOC values varied in the range of 1.23–2.68 and 1.14–2.60 % in core I and core II, respectively; however, there was an increasing trend in TOC level from bottom to top. The values of enrichment factor for Zn, Cu, Co, Ni, Pb, and Cr were slightly higher in core I than core II. The average geo-accumulation index values for core I and core II showed that sediments were moderately Co- and Pb-polluted but not polluted with Mg, Al, Ca, K, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Ti, V, and Zn. The degree of contamination was however considerably higher in core I relative to core II. The pollution load index values, although showing an increasing trend from bottom to top in both cores, overall rendered the marine sediment pollution free. The metal toxicology results demonstrated that heavy metal pollution, except Cr, may pose low to moderate risk to marine biota. The sum of toxic unit values however indicated that sediment core I was relatively more polluted than that of core II.


Metal element contents Marine sediments Sediment quality guidelines Pollution load index Degree of contamination Enrichment factor Toxic units Geo-accumulation index 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Azhar Mashiatullah
    • 1
  • Muhammad Zaman Chaudhary
    • 1
  • Nasir Ahmad
    • 2
  • Nisar Ahmad
    • 3
  • Tariq Javed
    • 1
  • Abdul Ghaffar
    • 1
  1. 1.Isotope Applications DivisionPakistan Institute of Nuclear Science & Technology (PINSTECH)IslamabadPakistan
  2. 2.Institute of GeologyUniversity of the PunjabLahorePakistan
  3. 3.Accelerator Laboratory, CASPGovernment College UniversityLahorePakistan

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