Year

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Abstract

Anthropogenic trace element pollution comes from a combination of urbanised catchment areas, road surfaces, stormwater outlets, mining sites, sewage overflows, soil erosion and illegal discharges, as well as atmospheric emissions. Estuaries play an important role as sinks for trace elements and other pollutants which can be detrimental to aquatic ecosystems and human health via the food chain (flora and fauna).

The objective of this research was to assess how field and laboratory techniques could be used to investigate and understand the spatial and vertical distribution of trace element pollution in marine sediments. Additionally, an assessment of the applicability of lower cost techniques to permit similar investigations in remote or less-developed regions has been made. A total of 428 surface sediment samples, along with 51 subsurface samples from eight cores in the Botany Bay and Port Hacking estuaries, New South Wales, Australia, were collected. Contemporary techniques were used to measure all samples. These techniques included a Malvern Mastersizer 2000 to obtain sediment grain size, Xray fluorescence (XRF) to measure the total trace element concentrations, X-ray diffraction (XRD) to identify mineral percentages, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS) analysis for lead isotopes. The findings of trace element concentrations were plotted using the Kriging method of interpolation in the ARC geographic information system software, as well as applied risk assessments and statistical analysis, hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) and principal component analysis (PCA).

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