A multi-tracer approach to disentangle anthropogenic emissions from natural processes in the St. Lawrence River and Estuary

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

6 Scopus Citations
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Author(s)

  • Duc Huy Dang
  • Lan Ma
  • Quang Khai Ha
  • Wei Wang

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Article number118588
Journal / PublicationWater Research
Volume219
Online published14 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes

Abstract

The ability to differentiate anthropogenic signatures from natural processes in complex hydrological systems is critical for environmental regulation perspectives, especially to curb pollution and implement effective water management strategies. Here, we report variations in the concentrations of 57 chemical variables, including nutrients, major, trace and ultra-trace elements, as well as the concentrations of Escherichia coli in different water masses along the St. Lawrence River-Estuary continuum. The constant ratios among major elements indicate consistent carbonate and silicate weathering processes in the drainage basins. We also suggest applying Ce anomalies to trace waters of low alkalinity and low complexing capacity as the dominance of Ce3+ free ion could promote Ce oxidation, and thus negative Ce anomalies. Furthermore, the positive Eu anomalies and elevated Tl concentrations could highlight the cation exchange processes on clay particles. In the fluvial and estuarine sections of the St. Lawrence System, we demonstrate significant contributions of wastewater discharge and discuss the suitability of several wastewater tracers, e.g., excess of B, Na, K, as well as Rb/Sr and Gd anomalies. We also highlight the inputs of several minor and trace elements (e.g., Mn, Fe, Cu, Co, Ni) from south-shore tributaries to the St. Lawrence System. However, the complex anthropogenic activities in the watersheds did not allow clear source partitioning. Finally, increased mixing of different river water masses upstream of Quebec City, together with the estuarine salt front and suspended sediments, are also responsible for releasing these minor and trace elements into the aquatic media. The results presented here help support further environmental actions to curb the emission of contaminants in the St. Lawrence System and provide more robust tracers of natural and anthropogenic processes in aquatic environments.

Research Area(s)

  • Contamination, Emission sources, St. Lawrence River, Tracers, Wastewater

Citation Format(s)

A multi-tracer approach to disentangle anthropogenic emissions from natural processes in the St. Lawrence River and Estuary. / Dang, Duc Huy; Ma, Lan; Ha, Quang Khai et al.
In: Water Research, Vol. 219, 118588, 01.07.2022.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review