Manganese oxide coatings on gravels from 255 sites on tributary streams in the Genesee River Watershed were analyzed for Mn, Fe, Zn, Cd, Co, Ni, Pb, and Cu. The results were compared with data on bedrock geology, surficial geology and land use, using factor analysis and stepwise multiple regression. All metals except Pb show strong positive correlation with Mn. This association results from the well-known tendency of Mn oxide precipitates to adsorb and incorporate dissolved trace metals. Pb may be present in a separate phase on the gravel surfaces; alternatively Pb abundance may be so strongly influenced by environmental factors that the effect of varying abundance of the carrier phase becomes relatively unimportant. When the effects of varying Mn abundance are allowed for, Pb and to a lesser extent Zn and Cu abundances are seen to be related to commercial, industrial and residential land use. In addition to this pollution effect, all the trace metals, Cd and Ni most strongly, tend to be more abundant in oxide coatings from streams in the forested uplands in the southern part of the area. This probably reflects increased geochemical mobility of the metals in the more acid soils and groundwater of the southern region. A strong Zn anomaly is present in streams draining areas underlain by the Lockport Formation. Oxide coatings in these streams contain up to 5% Zn, originating from disseminated sphalerite in the Lockport and secondary Zn concentrations in the overlying muck soils. The same group of metals, plus calcium and loss on ignition, were determined in the silt and clay (minus 230 mesh) fraction of stream sediments from 129 of the same sites, using a hot nitric acid leach. The amounts of manganese in the sediments are low (average 1020 ppm) and manganese oxides are, at most, of relatively minor significance in the trace-metal geochemistry of these sediments. The bulk of the trace metals in sediment appears to be associated with iron oxides, clays and organic matter. ?? 1981.
Additional publication details
Heavy metals and manganese oxides in the genesee watershed, New York state: effects of geology and land use