Marine Pollution Bulletin
School of Science / Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research
Australian Research Council LIEF Project / Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment – Equity Trustees Charitable Foundation / ARC DECRA ECU Faculty Research Grant Scheme / I + D + i projects / PIE HOLOCENO / MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 / FEDER
ARC Number : LE170100219
One of the world's largest smelters has been operating in South Australia since 1889, affecting environment and human health. Here we quantified the magnitude of Pb, Zn and Cd emissions from the smelter sequestered in the soil of an adjacent 110 km2 Posidonia australis seagrass meadows. Seagrass core records show that the smelter contaminated the entire area with decreasing sequestration with increasing distance from contamination points. The soil accumulated ~1300 t of Pb, ~3450 t of Zn, and ~ 90 t of Cd since 1889, and sequestered the equivalent of ~20 % of Pb, and ~50 % of Zn and Cd cumulative smelter emissions since 1999, showing that seagrass can be significant, long-term sinks of metal pollution in highly contaminated environments. Conservation efforts should prioritize these seagrass meadows to avoid the potential release of pollutants from their soils following habitat loss, which could turn seagrasses from a sink to a source of pollution.
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