Ramanathan, A.L., P. Vaithiyanathan, V. Subramanian, and B.K. Das. 1993. Geochemistry of the Cauvery estuary, east coast of India. Estuaries 16:459-474.

Abstract: Major ion chemistry of water and elemental geochemistry of suspended and surficial sediments collected from the Cauvery Estuary were studied to understand the geochemical processes in this tropical estuarine system. Specific conductance (Ec), total dissolved solids (TDS), and total suspended matter (TSM) increased conservatively with increasing chlorinity. In general, SO42–, Na, K, Ca, and Mg showed an increasing trend while H4SiO4 and PO43– showed a decreasing trend toward the sea. Additional removal mechanisms operating for these ions in the Cauvery Estuary have been identified based on observed concentrations. Factor analysis pointed out the sources contributing to the observed trends in estuarine water chemistry, POC and PON decreased toward the high chlorinity zone. TSM in the Cauvery Estuary were mostly of inorganic nature. Stable carbon isotope values showed that the carbon was equally of marine and terrestrial origin and helped to delineate the contribution of river water and seawater. The f mean size (a logarithmic grain size scale commonly used by sedimentologists) indicated that the surficial sediments were primarily comprised of coarse sand and silt, whereas suspended sediments were principally silt and clay. Suspended sediments were enriched in clays compared to surficial sediments. Quartz and feldspar were abundant among detritals while chlorite, kaolinite, and montmorillonite were dominant among clays. Silicon was the most abundant element in the sediments, followed by AL, CA, NA, K, Fe, Mn, and P. Heavy metals were enriched in the suspended sediments compared to the surficial bottom sediments as follows: Fe = 3.5, Mn = 7.4, Pb = 1.1, Zn = 15.2, Cu = 7.4, and Cr = 4.0. The levels of Cd, Cr, Zn, and Fe increased up to the middle reaches and then decreased toward the sea due to urban effluent and fertilizer input. Size fractionation studies indicated that the metal concentration in the finer fraction was 50% higher by mass than the coarse silt and fine silt fractions. Chemical fractionation studies showed that the abundance of metals were in the order of residual > organic/sulfide > carbonate > Fe/Mn oxide > exchangeable fractions.

Reproduced by permission.

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