Geochemical tracers of northern Portuguese estuarine sediments on the shelf - INSU - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers Access content directly
Journal Articles Progress in Oceanography Year : 2002

Geochemical tracers of northern Portuguese estuarine sediments on the shelf

M. F. Araújo
  • Function : Author
P. Valério
  • Function : Author
T. Barbosa
  • Function : Author
A. Gouveia
  • Function : Author
A. Oliveira
  • Function : Author
A. Rodrigues
  • Function : Author
J. M. A. Dias
  • Function : Author


The northern Portuguese coastal zone is drained by large Iberian rivers, along which there is intensive industrial, agricultural and urban activity. Offshore of the two main river basins of the Douro and Minho, two fine-grained sedimentary formations can be characterised. A geochemical study of this sediment cover has been performed focussing in particular on the fine deposits and the adjacent estuaries. The chemical composition of superficial sediments collected from the northern Portuguese shelf and from the river basins of the Minho and Douro rivers was determined for major, minor and trace elements; the rare earth elements (REE) composition was also determined in selected samples. Statistical analyses of these data for the shelf sediments allow us to identify elements with similar behaviours and the different sediment types along the shelf, and to evaluate of their origins. Downcore profiles of the chemical composition of the fine sediments reveal no evidence for changes induced by recent human activities. To assess the influence of the rivers on the fine sedimentary formations, the elemental distribution patterns of selected sediments have been compared with the estuarine sediments. Lithogenic elements composition normalised to Al and the shale normalised REE distributions showed there are similarities between the Douro River sediments and the sediment composition of the Douro and Galicia mud patches. However, the Galicia mud field showed no relationship in its chemical composition to sediments derived from the Minho River. Nor was any evidence for heavy metal contamination originating from the Douro estuary detected in anthropogenic element/Al ratios in the shelf sediments. This may be because of processes associated with resuspension, complexation and bioturbation that occur during sediment transport and deposition. Nevertheless, the Douro River seems to be the main continental source of fine sediments being deposited on the northern Portuguese shelf.

Dates and versions

insu-03619001 , version 1 (24-03-2022)



M. F. Araújo, J. -M. Jouanneau, P. Valério, T. Barbosa, A. Gouveia, et al.. Geochemical tracers of northern Portuguese estuarine sediments on the shelf. Progress in Oceanography, 2002, 52, pp.277-297. ⟨10.1016/S0079-6611(02)00011-3⟩. ⟨insu-03619001⟩


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