Lead contamination of fluvial sediments in an eroding blanket peat catchment

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Over the last few years there has been growing concern over the mobilisation of anthropogenically derived, atmospherically deposited Pb from upland blanket peat soils to receiving surface waters. The near-surface layer of blanket peat soils of the Peak District, southern Pennines, UK, is severely contaminated with high concentrations of Pb. Erosion of peat soils in this upland area may be releasing large quantities of previously deposited Pb into the fluvial system. Samples of fluvial sediments (suspended, floodplain, streamside fan, trash-line and channel bed) were collected from a severely eroding blanket peat catchment in the Peak District in order to investigate Pb contamination of fluvial sediments, to determine the mechanism for fluvial Pb transport and to determine if erosion of contaminated peat soils in the catchment is releasing Pb into the fluvial system. Concentrations of Pb associated with fluvial sediments are considerably higher than those in the catchment geology, but not as high as those in peat soils in the catchment. Intra- and inter-storm variability in the Pb content of suspended sediments can be explained by differences in organic matter content of these sediments and differences in erosion processes operating within the catchment. High Pb concentrations are associated with suspended sediments that have a high organic matter content. The results of this study suggest that organic matter is the principle vector for sediment-associated Pb in the fluvial system. Erosion of contaminated peat soils in the Peak District is releasing Pb into the fluvial system. The extent to which this is a problem in other peatland environments is an area requiring further research. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-459
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


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