Methods and Advances in the Forensic Analysis of Contaminated Rivers
E3S Web of Conferences
Trace metals and metalloids are a common and persistent form of riverine (river) contamination and are derived from a wide variety of sources, including mining and milling operations, industrial activities, urban runoff, agricultural chemicals, and atmospheric pollution, among a host of others. Documentation of trace metal sources and dispersal pathways in riverine ecosystems is essential to mitigate their potentially harmful effects to human and ecosystem health and is often required from a
... required from a legal (environmental forensic) perspective to assess liability for the costs of remediation. Unfortunately, documenting the sources and source contributions of trace metals in rivers has proven difficult, time-intensive, and costly. Herein, a four-component, interdisciplinary framework is proposed to efficiently identify the sources and source contributions of trace metals in alluvial sediments where multiple natural and/or anthropogenic sources exist. The components include (1) the analysis of the river's alluvial stratigraphic architecture and geomorphic history, (2) the temporal correlation of geochemically characterized alluvial deposits to potential anthropogenic trace metal sources, (3) the analysis of the spatial variations in selected geochemical parameters, and (4) the use of geochemical and/or isotopic tracers to quantitatively estimate the contributions of trace metals from the defined natural and anthropogenic sources. The four components are not intended to be exhaustive; the framework may require modification following multiple lines of evidence approach, in which additional methods and data are added to the investigation until there is confidence that all trace metal sources and their contributions have been effectively defined.