Platinum-Group Elements in Urban Fluvial Bed Sediments—Hawaii

  • Ross A. SutherlandEmail author
  • Graham D. Pearson
  • Chris J. Ottley
  • Alan D. Ziegler
Part of the Environmental Science and Engineering book series (ESE)


Results from a detailed examination of the abundance, spatial variability and grain-size fractionation of platinum-group elements (PGEs; iridium, Ir; palladium, Pd; platinum, Pt; and rhodium, Rh) in bed sediments of an urban stream in Honolulu (Hawaii, USA) indicate significant contamination of Pd, Pt, and Rh. PGE concentrations in sediments located in close proximity to storm drains followed the sequence of Pt (10.3–24.5 ng g−1) > Pd (5.9–12.6 ng g−1) > Rh (0.82–2.85 ng g−1) > Ir (0.11–0.23 ng g−1). From a contamination perspective, enrichment ratios followed the sequence of Rh (25.3) ≫ Pd (6.9) = Pt (6.8) ≫ Ir (2.3). Iridium was primarily geogenic in origin, while the remaining PGEs indicated significant anthropogenic contamination. Attrition of the PGE-loaded three-way catalytic converters and their release to the road environment is the most likely source of PGEs in the stream sediments examined. PGE enrichment of bed sediments likely resulted from direct transport of sediment-associated road runoff via storm drains. Preliminary work on grain-size partitioning showed preferential enrichment and mass loading of Pd, Pt, and Rh in grain-size fractions ranging from 63 to 1,000 μm. Data from this study have direct implications for contaminant transport, and sediment source identification in urban catchments. Rhodium, in particular, emerged as an element potentially useful for sediment fingerprinting.


Catalytic Converter Enrichment Ratio Road Runoff Stainless Steel Sieve Road Sediment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors greatly appreciate the field assistance provided by Stephanie Andrews and Dr. Matt McGranaghan in sampling bed sediment samples in Nuuanu catchment. The financial assistance provided by the seed-money grant to RAS by the College of Social Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa is gratefully acknowledged. Manuscript preparation benefitted from National University of Singapore FASS Research Facilitation Workshop in 2011 (R-109-000-115-112).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ross A. Sutherland
    • 1
    Email author
  • Graham D. Pearson
    • 2
  • Chris J. Ottley
    • 3
  • Alan D. Ziegler
    • 4
  1. 1.Geomorphology Laboratory, Department of GeographyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesDurhamUK
  4. 4.Geography DepartmentNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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