Sediment Metal Concentration Survey Along the Mine-Affected Molonglo River, NSW, Australia

Chamani Marasinghe Wadige, Anne TAYLOR, Frank Krikowa, Bill MAHER

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Metal concentrations were measured in sediments of the mine-affected Molonglo River to determine current metal concentrations and distribution along the river. Compared with an uncontaminated site at 6.5 km upstream of the Captains Flat mine, sediments collected from the river at =12.5 km distance below the mine had a significantly higher percentage of finely divided silt and clay with higher concentrations of cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn). The measured metal concentrations in the mine affected sites of the river were in the following order: Zn = 697-6818 > Pb = 23-1796 > Cu = 10-628 > Cd = 0.13-8.7 µg/g dry mass. The highest recorded metal concentrations were Cd at 48, Cu at 45, Pb at 240, and Zn at 81 times higher than the background concentrations of these metals in the river sediments. A clear sediment metal-contamination gradient from the mine site to 63 km downstream was established for Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn in the river sediments. Compared with sediment metal concentrations before a major flood in 2010, only Zn concentrations increased. For all of the mine-affected sites studied, Cd and Zn concentrations exceeded the (ANZECC/ARMCANZ, Australian and New Zealand guidelines for fresh and marine water quality. Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council/Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand, 2000) interim sediment-quality guidelines low values for Cd (1.5 µg/g dry mass) and the high value for Zn (410 µg/g dry mass). Existing metal loads in the riverbed sediments may still be adversely affecting the river infauna.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-582
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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