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Coastal sediments under the influence of multiple organic enrichment sources; an evaluation using carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes


, : Coastal sediments under the influence of multiple organic enrichment sources; an evaluation using carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes. Marine Pollution Bulletin 60.2

Sediment descriptors (grain size, total volatile solids, redox potential) and stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes were used to trace the origin of organic matter in a coastal area under multiple organic enrichment sources (urban outfall and a major estuary). The sediments fines content and total volatile solids were similar to outfall pre-operation period (1994), but the incorporation of terrestrial organic matter within the sediments located closer to the outfall was diagnosed by depleted13 C values (-24.2 + or - 0.38 ppm) and15 N values (2.4 + or - 0.93 ppm). Data also indicated depleted nitrogen signature at larger distances from the outfall than the carbon signature, due to confounding sediment grain size properties. Analysis in the bivalve Abra alba gave the same results for both isotopes and thus allowed a coherent interpretation of the spatial extent of the organic enrichment, highlighting the importance of bringing a biological element into the environmental assessment.

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