Spatial Variability and Contamination of Heavy Metals in the Inter-tidal Systems of a Tropical Environment


Department of Chemical Oceanography, School of Marine Sciences, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi, Kerala, India


Heavy metals in the surface sediments of the two coastal ecosystems of Cochin, southwest India were assessed. The study intends to evaluate the degree of anthropogenic influence on heavy metal concentration in the sediments of the mangrove and adjacent estuarine stations using enrichment factor and geoaccumulation index. The inverse relationship of Cd and Zn with texture in the mangrove sediments suggested the anthropogenic enrichment of these metals in the mangrove systems. In the estuarine sediments, the absence of any significant correlation of the heavy metals with other sedimentary parameters and their strong interdependence revealed the possibility that the input is not through the natural weathering processes. The analysis of enrichment factor indicated a minor enrichment for Pb and Zn in mangrove sediments. While, extremely severe enrichment for Cd, moderate enrichment for Zn and minor enrichment of Pb were observed in estuarine system. The geo accumulation index exhibited very low values for all metals except Zn, indicating the sediments of the mangrove ecosystem are unpolluted to moderately polluted by anthropogenic activities. However, very strongly polluted condition for Cd and a moderately polluted condition for Zn were evident in estuarine sediments.