Occurrence Forms of Heavy Metals in the Bottom Sediments of the White Sea

  • Liudmila L. DeminaEmail author
  • Dmitry F. Budko
  • Alexander N. Novigatsky
  • Tatiana N. Alexсeeva
  • Anastasia I. Kochenkova
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 82)


The White Sea is an inner subarctic marine basin where sedimentation is known to be influenced by mostly terrigenous processes. In the catchment area of the White Sea, a lot of the mining, manufacture, and pulp and paper industry plants are located whose solid and liquid wastes contain heavy metals, including the toxic ones. Through the solid and dissolved river runoff, atmospheric fluxes, and coastal abrasion, heavy metals enter the seawater where they are involved in various biogeochemical processes before to be precipitated on the sea floor. Many studies of marine sedimentation concern total metal concentration; meanwhile, an assessment of contribution of different biogeochemical processes stays incomplete. In this chapter, we try to evaluate the partitioning among the different forms (speciation) of heavy metals that reflect principal processes of their accumulation in the modern bottom sediments of the White Sea. We study both the rock-forming (Al, Fe, Mn) and trace elements (Mo, Cr, Ni, Co, Cu, Pb, Cd, and As) by use of a modified method of selective sequential chemical leaching.

A spatial distribution of the occurrence forms of these elements in the surface sediments was estimated, while their analysis in high-resolution (1-cm-scale) sedimentary core lets us to study their behavior in the processes of early diagenesis.

Our data evidenced a correctness of using Al as element indicator of terrigenous deposition in the marine bottom sediments. In both oxidized surface sediments and high-resolution sedimentary core, geochemically inert lithogenic form of Al dominated absolutely (on average, 95% of total content). Predominance of lithogenic form of Fe, Cr, Ni, and As (68–85% for each of these metals, on average) suggested the major role of terrigenous processes in their accumulation. For Cu, Cd, Pb, and Co, the sum of the three labile forms (adsorbed on clays/carbonates, authigenic Fe-Mn oxyhydroxides, and organic matter) and the inert lithogenic form contributes approximately equal portions into accumulation of these metals in the White Sea bottom sediments. Mn and Mo were found to be the most labile metals: only till 10% in the lithogenic form in the upper 0–6 cm layer, while down the core portion of this form increased progressively.

A detailed record of Mn and Fe occurrence forms revealed that a ratio of Mn/Fe in the labile (absorbed/carbonate and authigenic Mn-Fe oxyhydroxides) forms has changed abruptly during early diagenesis. The Mn/Fe ratio was the highest in the 1–2 cm upper oxidized sedimentary layer, decreasing sharply at intervals 6–7 cm in the White Sea, staying constantly low in deeper sedimentary layers. From this we suppose Mn/Fe ratio to be applied as a proxy of the early diagenesis of the bottom sediments.


Bottom sediments Diagenesis Occurrence forms Trace metals White Sea 



This chapter was prepared on base of bottom sediments sampling and analytical processing in accordance with the state task, the Russian Academy of Sciences for 2017–2018, theme No 0149-2018-0016; the authors thank the Russian Scientific Foundation (Project No 14-27-00114-П) for the financial support over the period of generalization of the data obtained.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liudmila L. Demina
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dmitry F. Budko
    • 1
  • Alexander N. Novigatsky
    • 1
  • Tatiana N. Alexсeeva
    • 1
  • Anastasia I. Kochenkova
    • 1
  1. 1.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences (IO RAS)MoscowRussia

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