Spatial and Seasonal Trend of Trace Metals and Ecological Risk Assessment along Kanyakumari Coastal Sediments, Southern India

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Faculty of Marine Sciences, Annamalai University, Parangipettai - 608 502, India

2 Department of Physics, Annamalai University, Annamalai Nagar - 608 002, India



The concentration of selected trace metals (Fe, Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn) in 30
surface sediments were measured using Atomic Absorption Spectrometer to investigate
the spatial and seasonal variations of trace metals along Kanyakumari coast, India. To
assess the environmental risk of trace metals, enrichment factor, geo-accumulation index,
pollution load index, and ecological risk index have been calculated. According to the
pollution load index and geo-accumulation index (Igeo) values, Kanyakumari coastal
sediments were unpolluted by Fe, Cu, Pb, and Zn, whereas moderately polluted by Cd
with low to moderate ecological risk. The existence of the high hydrodynamic condition
during the southwest monsoon is more favorable to the transport of sediments and
enhance the accumulation of metals, whereas during the northeast monsoon the
accumulation of metals is less. The baseline data for spatial distribution and seasonal
variation of trace metals and their controlling factors found in this study will be useful for
pollution monitoring program along the Kanyakumari coast.


Alagarsamy, R. (2006). Distribution and seasonal variation of trace metals in surface sediments of the Mandovi estuary, west coast of India. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci., 67, 333-339.
Alagarsamy, R. and Zhang, J. (2010). Geochemical characterization of major and trace elements in the coastal sediments of India. Environ Monit Asses., 161 (1-4), 161-176.
Allen, H.E. (1995). Metal contaminated aquatic sediments. Michigan: Ann Arbor Press.
Al-Taani, A.A. (2014). Trend analysis in water quality of Al-Wehda Dam, NW Jordan. Environ Monit Asses., 186, 6223–6239.
Al-Taani, A.A., Batayneh, A., El-Radaideh, N., Al-Momani, I. and Rawabdeh, A. (2012). Monitoring of selenium concentrations in major springs of Yarmouk Basin, North Jordan. World App Sci Journal., 18, 704–714.
Al-Taani, A.A., Batayneh, A.T., El-Rasaideh, N., Ghrefat, H., Zumlot, T., Al-Rawabdeh, A. M., Al-Momani, T. and Taani, A. (2015). Spatial distribution and pollution assessment of trace metal in surface sediments of Ziqlab Reservoir, Jordan. Environ Monit Assess., 187:32, doi 10. 1007/s 10661-015-4289-9.
Alyazichi, Y.M., Jones, B.G. and McLean, E. (2015). Source identification and assessment of sediment contamination of trace metals in Kogarah Bay, NSW, Australia. Environ Monit Assess., 187, 20. doi:10.1007/s10661- 014-4238-z.
Angusamy, N., Udayaganesan, P. and Rajamanickam, G. V. (1998). Wave refraction pattern and its role in the redistribution of sediment along southern coast of Tamilnadu, India. Indian J Mar Sci., 27, 173 - 178.
Anitha, G., and Kumar, S.P., (2014). Environmental Geochemistry of Elements in a Sediment Core off Thengapattanam Estuary, South West Coastal Zone, Tamilnadu, India. Int j Res Chem environ., 4(1), 12- 24.
Arias-Almeida, J.C. and Ramirez-Restrepo, J.J. (2009). Caracterización preliminar de los sedimentos de un embalse tropical: represa La Fe (El Retiro, Antioquia, Colombia). Limnetica, 28(1), 65–78.
Bai, J., Cui, B., Chen, B., Zhang, K., Deng, W. and Gao, H. (2011). Spatial distribution and ecological risk assessment of heavy metals in surface sediments from a typical plateau lake wetland, China. Ecolo Model., 222, 301–306.
Basha, S., Jhala, J., Thora, R., Goelm S., Trivedi, R., Shah, K., Menon, G., Gaur, P., Mody, K.H. and Jha, B. (2010). Assessment of heavy metal content in suspended particulate matter of coastal industrial town, Mithapur, Gujarat, India. Atmos Res., 97, 257- 265.
Chakraborty, S., Bhattacharya, T., Singh, G. and Maity, J.P. (2014). Benthic macroalgae as biological indicator of heavy metal pollution in the marine environment: A biomonitoring approach for pollution assessment. Ecotoxic Environ Safety., 100, 61–68.
Chandrasekar, N., Cherian, A., Rajamanickam, M. and Rajamanickam, G.V. (2001). Influence of garnet sand mining on beach sediment dynamics between Periyathalai and Navaladi Coast, Tamilnadu. J Indian Assoc Sediment., 21(1), 223–233.
Cukrov, N., Cmuk, P., Mlakar, M. and Omanovic, D. (2008). Spatial distribution of trace metals in the Krka River, Croatia: An example of the self-purification. Chemosphere, 72, 1559–1566.
Dekov, V.M., Subramanian, V. and Van Grieken, R. (1999). Chemical composition of riverine suspended matter and sediments from the Indian sub-continent. In: Ittekkot, V., Subramanian, V. and Annadurai, S. (Eds.), Biogeochemistry of Rivers in Tropical South and Southeast Asia. Heft 82, SCOPE Sonderband, Mitteilugen aus dem Geologisch-Palaontolgischen Institute der Universitat, Hamburg, pp. 99-109.
Dhanakumar, S., Rutharvel, M.K., Solaraj, G. and Mohanraj, R. (2013). Heavy-metal fractionation in surface sediments of the Cauvery River estuarine region, southeastern coast of India. Archives Environ Cont and Toxic., 65, 14–23.
Diraviya Raj, K., Mathews, G. and Patterson Edward, J.K. (2015). Vaan Island of Gulf of Mannar, Southeast coast of India - on the verge of submergence. Indian J Geo-Mar Sci., 44 (6), 519- 522.
Du Laing, G., Rinklebe, J., Vandecasteele, B., Meers, E. and Tack, F.M.G. (2009). Trace metal behaviour in estuarine and riverine floodplain soils and sediments: a review. The Sci Total Environ., 407, 3972–3985.
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) (2002). Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment (MAIA) Estuaries, 1997-98: Summary Report, EPA/620/R-02/003,115.
Fernandes, L., Nayak, G.N., Ilangovan, D. and Borole, D.V. (2011). Accumulation of sediment, organic matter and trace metals with space and time, in a creek along Mumbai coast, India. Estuar Coast and Shelf Sci., 91, 388- 399.
Fernandes, L.L. and Nayak, G.N. (2014). Characterizing metal levels and their speciation in intertidal sediments along Mumbai coast, India. Mar Pollut Bull., 79, 371- 378.
Folger, D.W. (1972). Characteristics of estuarine sediments of the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Prof. Paper 742, 94.
Fu, F. and Wang, Q. (2011). Removal of heavy metal ions from wastewaters: a review. J Environ Manage., 92, 407–418.
Guevara, R., Rizzo, A. and Sanchez, R. (2005). Heavy metal inputs in northern Patagonia lakes from short sediment core analysis. J Radio Nuclear Chem., 265, 481–493.
Gurumoorthi, K., Venkatachalapathy, R., Mohan, K. and Mugilarasan, M. (2015). Observed tidal characteristics along the near shore coast off Kanyakumari, Southeast coast of India. Int J Ear Sci Engin., 8(2), 512- 518.
Hakanson, L. (1980). An ecological risk index for a aquatic pollution control: a sedimentologicl approach, Water Res., 14, 975-1000.
Hamed, M.A,. Lotfy, H.R. and Kandawa-Schulz, M. (2009). Chemical forms of copper, Zinc, Lead and Cadmium in sediments of the norther part of the Red sea, Egypt. Namibia Dev.J.2:1-14.
Hanamgond, P.T. (1993). Morphological and Sedimentological Studies within Kavada Bay and Belekeri Bay Beaches, Uttara Kannada District, Karnataka, West Coast India. Dharwad, India: Karnataka University, Ph.D. thesis, 265 p.
James Balagan Anand, D. and Mary Jelastin Kala, S. (2014). Seasonal distribution of metals in the coastal water and sediments along the major zonesof southeast coast of India. Int Res J Environ Sci., 4(2), 22- 31.
Celino, J.J., Oliveira, O.M.C., Hadlich, G.M., Souza Queiroz, A.F. and Garcia, K.S. (2008). Assessment of contamination by trace metals and petroleum hydrocarbons in sediments from the tropical estuary of Todos os Santos Bay, Brazil. Revis Brasil de Geocienc., 38 (4), 753- 760.
Jonathan, M.P. and Ram Mohan, V. (2003). Heavy metals in sediments of the inner shelf off the Gulf of Mannar, Southeast coast of India. Mar Pollut Bull., 46, 263–268.
Kaliraj, S., Chandrasekar, N. and Magesh, N.S. (2013). Impacts of wave energy and littoral currents on shoreline erosion/accretion along the south-west coast of Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu uses DSAS and geospatial technology. Environ Earth Sci., DOI 10.1007/s12665-013-2845-6.
Kankara, R.S., Mohan, R. and Venkatachalapathy, R. (2013). Hydrodynamic Modelling of Chennai Coast from a Coastal Zone Management. J Coast Res., 29 (2), 347-357.
Kennish, M.J. (1996). Practical Handbook of Estuarine and Marine Pollution. CRC Press, New York, 535pp.
Kersten, M. and Smedes, F. (2002). Normalization procedures for sediment contaminants in spatial and temporal trend monitoring. J Environ Monit., 4 (1), 109-115.
Kumar, R., Pradhan, A., Khan, F.A., Lindstrom, P., Ragnvaldsson, D. and Ivarsson, P. (2015). Comparative Analysis of Stress Induced Gene Expression in Caenorhabditis elegans following Exposure to Environmental and Lab Reconstituted Complex Metal Mixture. PLOS one 10(7): e0132896. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132896.
Kunte, P., Wagle, B.C. and Yasushio, S. (2000). Remote assessment of netshore drift along the west coast of India. PORSEC proceedings, 2:685-689.
Lafabrie, C., Pergent, G., Kantin, R., Pergent-Martini, C. and Gonzalez, J. L. (2007). Trace metals assessment in water, sediment, mussel and seagrass species-validation of the use of posidonia oceanica as a metal biomonitor. Chemosphere, 68, 2033–2039.
Landrigan, P.J. and Todd, A.C. (1994). Lead poisoning. Western J Medic., 161, 53-159.
Lee, C.L., Fang, M.D. and Hsieh, M.T. (1998). Characterization anddistribution of metals in surficial sediments in Southwestern Taiwan. Mar Pollut Bull., 36, 464-471.
Lim, D.I., Choi, J.W. and Shin, H.H. (2013). Toxicological impact assessment of heavy metal contamination on macro benthic communities in southern coastal sediments of Korea. Mar Pollut Bull., 73, 362–368.
Mansour, A.M., Askalany, M.S., Madkour, H.A., Bakheit, B. and Assran, B.B. (2013). Assessment and comparison of heavy-metal concentrations in marine sediments in view of tourism activities in Hurghada area, northern Red Sea, Egypt. Egypt J. Aqua Res., 39(2), 91–10.
Mashal, K., Salahat, M., Al-Qinna, M. and Al-Degs, Y. (2014). Spatial distribution of cadmium concentrations in street dust in an arid environment. Arabian Journal of Geosci, doi: 10.1007/s12517-014-1367-1.
Monteiro, P.M.S. and Roychoudhury, A.N. (2005). Spatial characteristics of sediments trace metal in eastern boundary upwelling retention area (St. Helena Bay, South Africa): A hydrodynamic- biological pump hypothesis. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci., 65, 123- 134.
Moosavian, S.M., Baghernabavi, S.M., Zallaghi, E., Rouzbahani, M.M., Panah, E.H. and Dashtestani, M. (2014). Measurement  of pollution level caused by heavy metal od Vanadium, Nickel, Lead and Copper using Bivalves shells of Timoclea imbricate Species on Bahrakan Coast in Spring 2013. Jundishapur J. Health Sci., 6(4): 23473.
Muller, G. (1979). Heavy metals in the sediment of the Rhine Changes seity. 1971. Umsch Wiss Tech, 79, 778–783.
Muller, P.J. and Suess, E. (1979). Productivity, sedimentation rate, and sedimentary organic matter in oceans- I. Organic carbon preservation. Deep Sea Res., 26, 1347-1362.
Nagajyoti, P.C., Lee, K.D., and Sreekanth, T.V.M. (2010). Heavy metals, occurrence and toxicity for plants: a review. Environ Chemist Lett., 8, 199–216.
Natesan, U and Parthasarathy, A. (2010). The potential impacts of sea level rise along the coastal zone of Kanyakumari District in Tamilnadu, India. J Coast Conserv., 14:207–214.
Nobi, E.P., Dilipan, E., Thangaradjou, T., Sivakumar, K. and Kannan, L. (2010). Geochemical and geo-statistical assessment of heavy metal concentration in the sediments of different coastal ecosystems of Andaman Islands, India. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci., 87, 253–264.
Palanichamy, S. and Rajendran, A. (2000). Heavy metal concentration in seawater and sediments of Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay, Southeast coast of India. Indian J Mar Sci., 29, 116- 119.
Percival, H.J., Parfitt, R.L. and Scott, N. (2000): Factors controlling soil carbon levels in New Zealand grasslands: Is clay content important?, Soil Sci Socie of America., 64, 1623–1630.
Rao, R.R., Girishkumar, M.S., Ravichandran, M., Gopalakrishna, V.V. and Pankajakshan, T. (2011). Do cold, low salinity waters pass through the Indo-Sri Lanka Channel during winter?. Int J Rem Sens., 32 (22), 7383-7398.
Robin, R.S., Muduli, P.R., Vardhan, K.V., Abhilash, K.R., Selvam, A.P., Kumar, B.C. and Balasubramanian, T. (2012). Assessment of Hydro geochemical Characteristic in an Urbanized Estuary using Environmental Techniques. Geosci., 2 (4), 81-92.
Salehi, F., Abdoli, M.A. and Baghdadi, M. (2014). Sources of Cu, V, Cd, Cr, Mn, Zn, Co, Ni, Pb, Ca and Fe in soil of Aradkooh Landfill. Int. J. Environ. Res., 8(3), 543-550.
Santhiya, G., Lakshumanan, C., Jonathan., M.P., Roy, P.D., Navarrete-Lopez, M., Srinivasalu, S., Uma Maheswari, B. and Krishnakumar, P. (2011). Metal enrichment in beach sediments from Chennai Metropolis, SE coast of India. Mar Pollut Bull., 62, 2537–2542. 
Saravanan, S. and Chandrasekar, N. (2015). Wave refraction pattern and littoral sediment transport along the SE Tamilnadu coast, India. J Coast Reas., 31, 291- 298.
Saravanan, S., Chandrasekar, N., Sheik Mujabar, P. and Hendry (2011). An overview of beach morphodynamic classification along the beaches between Ovari and Kanyakumari, Southern Tamil Nadu coast, India. Physical Oceanog., Vol, 21, No.2.
Saravanan, S. and Chandrasekar, N. (2010). Grain Size Analysis and Depositional Environment Condition along the Beaches between Ovari and Kanyakumari, Southern Tamilnadu Coast, India. Mar Georesour Geotech., 28(4), 288-302.
Secrieru, D. and Oaie, G. (2009). The relation between the grain size composition of the sediments from the NW Black Sea and their Total Organic Carbon (TOC). Geoecomarina, 15, 5-11.
Segura, R., Arancibia, V. and Zuiga, M.C. (2006). Distribution of copper, zinc, lead and cadmium concentrations in stream sediments from the Mapocho River in Santiago, Chile. J Geochem Explor., 91(1–3), 71–80.
Selvaraj, K., Ram Mohan, V. and Szefer, P. (2004). Evaluation of metal contamination in coastal sediments of the Bay of Bengal, India: geochemical and statistical approaches. Mar Pollut Bull., 49, 174–185.
Shang, Z., Ren, J., Tao, L. and Wang, X. (2015). Assessment of heavy metals in surface sediments from Gansu section of Yello River, China. Environ Monit Asses., 187:79, doi 10.1007/s 10661-015-4328-6.
Shetye, S.R., Gouveia, A.D., Shenoi, S.S.C., Micheal, G.S., Sundar, D., Almeida, A.M. and Santanam, K. (1991). The coastal current off western India during the northeast monsoon. Deep Sea Res., 38:1517-1529.
Sin, S.N., Chua, H., Lo, W. and Ng, L.M. (2001). Assessment of heavy metal cations in sediments of Shing Mun River, Hong Kong. Environ Int., 26, 297–301.
Strady, E., Kervella, S., Blanc, G., Robert, S., Stanisiere, J.Y., Coynel, A. and Schafer, J. (2011). Spatial and tempotral variation in trace metal concentration in surface sediments of the Marennes Oleron Bay. Rlation to hydrodynamic forcing. Cont Shelf Res., 31, 997- 1007.
Suresh Gandhi, M. and Raja, M. (2014). Heavy mineral distribution and geochemical studies of coastal sediments between Besant Nagar and Marakkanam, Tamil Nadu, India. J Rad Res and App Sci., 7, 256-268.
Tomlinson, D.C., Wilson, J.G., Harris, C.R. and Jeffrey, D.W. (1980). Problems in the assessment of heavy metals in estuaries and the formation pollution index. Helgoland Mar Res., 33, 566-575.
Unnikrishanan, A.S. (2010). Tidal propagation off the central west coast of India. Indian J Geo Mar Sci., 394: 485-488.
Unnikrishnan, A.S., Gouveia, A.D., and Vethamony, P. (1999). Tidal regime in Gulf of Kachch west coast of India by 2D model. Journal of Waterway, Port, Coast, and Ocean Engin., 1256:276-284.
Varol, M. and Sen, B. (2012). Assessment of nutrient and heavy metal contamination in surface water and sediments of the upper Tigris River, Turkey. Catena, 5 (92), 1–10.
Veerasingam, S., Venkatachalapathy, R. and Ramkumar, T. (2014). Historical environmental pollution trend and ecological risk assessment of trace metals in marine sediments off Adyar estuary, Bay of Bengal, India. Environ Earth Sci., 71, 3963–3975.
Venkatramanan, S., Ramkumar, T. and Anithamary, I. (2013). Speciation of selected heavy metals geochemistry in surface sediments from Tirumalairajan river estuary, east coast of India. Environ Monit Assess., 185, 6563–6578.
Vinith kumar, N.V., Kumaresan, S., Manjusha, M. and Balasubramanian, T. (1999). Organic matter, nutrients and major ions in the sediments of coral reef and seagrass beds og Gulf of Mannar biosphere reserve, southeast coast of India. Indian J Mar Sci., 28, 383- 393.
Volvoikar, S.P. and Nayak, G.N. (2015). Impact of industrial effluents on geochemical association of metal within intertidal sediments of creek. Mar Poll Bull., Article in press,
Wai, O.W.H., Wang, C.H., Li, Y.S. and Li, X.D. (2004). The formation mechanisms of turbidity maximum in the Pearl River estuary, China Mar Pollut Bull., 48, 441-448.
Wang, J., Liu, W., Yang, R., Zhang, L. and Ma, J. (2013). Assessment of the potential ecological risk of heavy metals in reclaimed soils at an opencast coal mine. Disaster Advance, 6 (S3), 366- 377.
Williamson, R.B. and Wilcock, R.J. (1994). The Distribution and fate of contaminants in estuarine sediments: recommendations for environmental monitoring and assessment, Technical Publication, 47, New Zealand.
Woitke, P., Wellmitz, J., Helm, D., Kube, P., Lepom, P. and Litheraty, P. (2003). Analysis and assessment of heavy metal pollution in suspended solids and sediments of the river Danube. Chemosphere, 51 (8), 633- 642.
Xu, Z., Ni, S., Tuo, X. and Zhang, C. (2008) Calculation of heavy metals toxicity coefficient in the evaluation of potential ecological risk index. Huangjin Kexue yu Jishu, 31(2), 112–115.
Yang, X., Duan, J., Wang, L., Ji, W., Guan, J., Beecham, S. and Mulcahy, D. (2015). Heavy metal pollution and health risk assessment in the Wei River in China. Environ Monit Assess., 187, 111.
Yang, Y., Chen, F., Zhang, L., Liu, J., Wu, S. and Kang, M. (2012). Comprehensive assessment of heavy metal contamination in sediment of the Pearl River Estuary and adjacent shelf. Mar Pollut Bull., 64, 1947–1955.
Yi, Y., Yang, Z. and Zhang, S. (2011). Ecological risk assessme nt of heavy metals in sediment and human health risk assessment of heavy metals in fishes in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River basin. Environ Pollut., 159, 2575- 2585.
Zarei, I., Pourkhabbaz, A. and Babaei, H. (2013). Evaluation of some physical parameter and heavy metal contamination in Hara Biospher Reservior, Iran, using a new pollution index approach. Iranian J Toxic., 7 (21), 871- 877.
Zhang J. and Liu C.L. (2002). Riverine composition and estuarine chemistry of particulate metals in China – Weathering features, anthropogenic impact and chemical fluxes. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci., 54, 1051-1070.
Zhao, H., Xia, B., Fan, C., Zhao, P. and Shen, S. (2012). Human health risk from soil heavy metal contamination under different land uses near Dabaoshan Mine, Southern China. Sci of the Total Environ., 417–418, 45–54.
Zhu, L., Xu, J., Wang, F. and Lee, B. (2011). An assessment of selected heavy metal contamination in the surface sediments from the South China Sea before 1998. J Geochem Explor., 108, 1-14.