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Metal pollutants in Indian continental coastal marine sediment along a 3,700 km transect: An Electron Paramagnetic Resonance spectroscopic study

Hoon, SR and Alagarsamy, R (2018) Metal pollutants in Indian continental coastal marine sediment along a 3,700 km transect: An Electron Paramagnetic Resonance spectroscopic study. Science of the Total Environment, 612. pp. 26-38. ISSN 0048-9697


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We report the analysis and geographical distribution of anthropogenically impacted marine surficial sediments along a 3700 km transect around the continental shelf of India. Sediments have been studied using a mixed analytical approach; high sensitivity electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR), chemical analysis and environmental magnetism. Indian coastal marine deposits are heavily influenced bymonsoon rains flushing sediment of geological and anthropogenic origin out of the subcontinental river systems. That is, climatic, hydro-, geo- and anthropogenic spheres couple strongly to determine the nature of Indian coastal sediments. Enrichment of Ni, Cu and Cr is observed in shelf sediments along both east and west coasts associated with industrialised activities in major urban areas. In the Gulf of Cambay and the Krishna and Visakhapatnam deltaic regions, levels of Ni and Cr pollutants (≥80 and ≥120 ppmrespectively) are observed, sufficient to cause at least mediumadverse biological effects in the marine ecosystem. In these areas sediment EPR spectra differ in characteristic from those of less impacted ones. Modelling enables deconvolution of EPR spectra. In conjunction with environmental magnetism techniques, EPR has been used to characterise species composition in coastal depositional environments. Paramagnetic species can be identified and their relative concentrations determined. EPR g-values provide information about the chemical and magnetic environment of metals. We observe g-values of up to 5.5 and large g-shifts indicative of the presences of a number of para and ferrimagnetic impurities in the sediments. EPR has enabled the characterisation of species composition in coastal depositional environments, yielding marine sediment environmental ‘fingerprints’. The approach demonstrates the potential of EPR spectroscopy in the mapping and evaluation of the concentration and chemical speciation in paramagnetic metals in sediments from marine shelf environments and their potential for source apportionment and environmental impact assessment.

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