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A 2400-year record of trace metal loading in lake sediments of Lagoa Vermelha, southeastern Brazil

Journal of South American Earth Sciences
Publication Date
  • Lake Sediments
  • Metals
  • Pb Stable Isotopes
  • Atmospheric Fallout
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science


Sediments of the Lagoa Vermelha (Red Lake), situated in the Ribeira Valley, southeastern Brazil, are made of a homogeneous, organic-rich, black clay with no visible sedimentary structures. The inorganic geochemical record (Al, As, Ba, Br, Co,Cs, Cr, Fe, Mn, Ni, Rb, Sc, Sb, V, Zn, Hg and Pb) of the lake sediments was analyzed in a core spanning 2430 years. The largest temporal changes in trace metal contents occurred approximately within the last 180 years. Recent sediments were found to be enriched in Pb, Zn, Hg, Ni, Mn, Br and Sb (more than 2-fold increase with respect to the "natural background level"). The enhanced accumulation of Br, Sb, and Mn was attributed to biogeochemical processes and diagenesis. On the other hand, the anomalous concentrations of Pb, Zn, Hg and Ni were attributed to pollution. As Lagoa Vermelha is located in a relatively pristine area, far removed from direct contamination sources, the increased metal contents of surface sediments most likely resulted from atmospheric fallout. Stable Pb isotopes provided additional evidence for anthropogenic contamination. The shift of Pb-206/Pb-207 ratios toward decreasing values in the increasingly younger sediments is consistent with an increasing contribution of airborne anthropogenic lead. In the uppermost sediments (0-10 cm), the lowest values of the Pb-206/Pb-207 ratios may reflect the influence of the less radiogenic Pb from the Ribeira Valley District ores (Pb-206/Pb-207 between 1.04 and 1.10), emitted during the last 50 years. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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