A field investigation of the relationship between zinc and acid volatile sulfide concentrations in freshwater sediments

Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Health
By: , and 



Understanding relationships between cationic metals such as cadmium, copper, nickel, lead and zinc, and amorphous iron sulfides, measured as acid volatile sulfide (AVS), is key to predicting metal bioavailability and toxicity insediments. The objective of the present study was to assess seasonal and spatial variations of AVS in freshwater sediments contaminated with zinc. Sediments were sampled from three streams with varying levels of zinc contamination at two different times, March and June of 1995, representing cold- and warm-weather situations. Interstitial (pore) water concentrations of zinc, and solid phase concentrations of AVS and zinc were measured in surficial and deep sediment horizons. Toxicity tests (10-d) with the amphipodHyalella azteca were conducted using intact cores. Sediment zinc concentrations from six sites within the primary test stream differed by about five-fold, and also varied seasonally. Acid volatile sulfide concentrations were generally lower than those of zinc, and pore water zinc concentrations typically were elevated. There was a positive correlation between solid-phase AVS and zinc concentrations, suggesting that the system was dominated by zinc, as opposed to iron sulfides. In contrast to expectations arising from some studies of seasonal variations of AVS in iron-dominated systems, AVS concentrations were smaller in June than in March. However, this was likely due to a major storm event and associated sediment scouring before the June sampling, rather than to seasonal processes related to variations in temperature and dissolved oxygen. Based upon an indirect analysis of depth variations in AVS, there was some indication that zinc sulfide might be less prone to oxidation than iron sulfide. There was a strong correlation between toxicity of the sediment samples toH. azteca and interstitial water concentrations of zinc; however, the possible contribution of other contaminants to sediment toxicity cannot be dismissed.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A field investigation of the relationship between zinc and acid volatile sulfide concentrations in freshwater sediments
Series title Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Health
DOI 10.1007/BF00662186
Volume 5
Issue 4
Year Published 1996
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 10 p.
First page 255
Last page 264