Data are presented for trace element concentrations determined in the <63 ??m fraction of streambed sediment samples collected at 24 sites on the island of O'ahu, Hawai'i. Sampling sites were classified as urban, agricultural, mixed (urban/agricultural), or forested based on their dominant land use, although the mixed land use at selected sampling sites consisted of either urban and agricultural or forested and agricultural land uses. Forest dominated sites were used as reference sites for calculating enrichment factors. Trace element concentrations were compared to concentrations from studies conducted in the conterminous United States using identical methods and to aquatic-life guidelines provided by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. A variety of elements including Pb, Cr, Cu and Zn exceeded the aquatic-life guidelines in selected samples. All of the Cr and Zn values and 16 of 24 Cu values exceeded their respective guidelines. The potential toxicity of elements exceeding guidelines, however, should be considered in the context of strong enrichments of selected trace elements attributable to source rocks in Hawai'i, as well as in the context of the abundance of fine-grained sediment in the streambed of O'ahu streams. Statistical methods including cluster analysis, Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric test, correlation analysis, and principal component analysis (PCA) were used to evaluate differences and elucidate relationships between trace elements and sites. Overall, trace element distributions and abundances can be correlated to three principal sources of elements. These include basaltic rocks of the volcanic edifice (Fe, Al, Ni, Co, Cr, V and Cu), carbonate/seawater derived elements (Mg, Ca, Na and Sr), and elements enriched owing to anthropogenic activity (P, Sn, Cd, Sn, Ba and Pb). Anthropogenic enrichment gradients were observed for Ba, Cd, Pb, Sn and Zn in the four streams in which sediments were collected upstream and downstream. The findings of this study are generally similar to but differ slightly from previous work on sediments and suspended particulate matter in streams, from two urban watersheds of O'ahu, Hawai'i. Inter-element associations in the latter were often stronger and indicated a mixture of anthropogenic, agricultural and basaltic sources of trace elements. Some elements fell into different statistical categories in the two studies, owing in part to differences in study design and the hydrogeological constraints on the respective study areas.
Additional publication details
Trace elements in streambed sediments of small subtropical streams on O'ahu, Hawai'i: Results from the USGS NAWQA program