Special Issue "Aquatic Systems Quality and Pollution Control"

A special issue of Geosciences (ISSN 2076-3263). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrogeology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Teresa Albuquerque
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco|CERNAS|QRural and Institute of Earth Sciences (ICT), University of Évora, 6000-767 Castelo Branco, Portugal
Interests: data analysis; geostatistics; GIS; stochastic and numerical modeling; environmental systems; pollution control; natural hazards management; risk mapping
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Rita Fonseca
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Earth Sciences (IES), Department of Geosciences, School of Sciences and Technology, AmbiTerra Laboratory, University of Évora, 7000-645 Évora, Portugal
Interests: biogeochemistry and evaluation of the reuse of dam sediments; mining contamination; remediation methodologies; analytical geochemistry; behavior of metals and nutrients in aquatic systems
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The accumulation of potentially hazardous or toxic chemicals in the sediments of freshwater and transitional aquatic systems, such as rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands, estuaries, and bays and its mobilization to the water column, goes along to represent a substantial risk to the health of aquatic ecosystems and human populations worldwide. Therefore, an economic growth challenge at a local and worldwide scale. Preserving the viability of these aquatic systems requires complex actions and, thus, mobilizing the Earth Science scientific community. The full scope of environmental topics is key for a holistic approach benefiting a diverse group of stakeholders.

This Geosciences Special Issue will open a wide debate on Earth and Environmental issues related to the Quality of Sediments and Water of Aquatic Systems. Therefore, research results, practical experiences, alternatives, and new approaches are very welcome.

This Special Issue welcomes innovative papers dealing with i) tools and techniques of particle-tracking studies and their applications in contaminated sediment’s transport and fate, ii) water–sediments interactions, iii) contaminant distribution, bioavailability, and uptake partitioning, iv) data mining and spatial modeling, v) characterization, assessment, and monitoring of emerging contaminants, vi) chemical/toxicological/biological measurements and monitoring of pollutants, vii) ecological and human health risk assessment, viii) climate change impacts on aquatic systems quality, ix) impact of mining and industrial activities on water and sediment quality, x) the role of stable isotopes, REE and other analytical techniques in monitoring the sources and fate of contaminants in sediments, and xi) remediation and restoration.

Dr. Teresa Albuquerque
Dr. Rita Fonseca
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Geosciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Transport and fate
  • Sediment–water interactions
  • Contaminant distribution and bioavailability
  • Data mining
  • Spatial modeling
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Risk assessment
  • Climate change scenarios
  • Analytical techniques
  • Remediation and restoration

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
Importance of the Spatial Distribution of Rare Earth Elements in the Bottom Sediments of Reservoirs as a Potential Proxy for Tracing Sediments Sources. A Case Study in the Dominican Republic
Geosciences 2021, 11(12), 490; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11120490 - 30 Nov 2021
Viewed by 168
Abstract
The geochemical composition of rare earth elements (REE) in the bottom sediments of two Dominican reservoirs and in soils from their catchments was studied to identify possible sources of the deposited materials. Knowledge of the origin of the sediments will serve to control [...] Read more.
The geochemical composition of rare earth elements (REE) in the bottom sediments of two Dominican reservoirs and in soils from their catchments was studied to identify possible sources of the deposited materials. Knowledge of the origin of the sediments will serve to control the excessive rates of erosion and sedimentation that occur annually due to periodic extreme climatic events that promote excessive silting of the lakes, followed by loss of storage capacity and degradation of water quality. The REE contents of sediments and soils were normalized to the North American Shale Composite (NASC) and the ratio of light/heavy rare earths (LREE/HREE ratio), Ce and Eu anomalies, and some fractionation parameters were determined. The REE patterns are more homogeneous in the sediments, indicating uniform sedimentation in both deposits. The sediment data reflect depletion of REE from the sources, enrichment of light REE (LREE) and some middle REE (MREE), and positive Eu and Ce anomalies. All data were plotted in correlation diagrams between some fractionation parameters of light–middle–heavy REE and anomalies of Ce and Eu. The similarity of the ratios between these parameters in all samples and the overlap of data from soils and rocks on the sediment projection in the diagrams allowed a good discrimination of the main sources of the materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Systems Quality and Pollution Control)
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Article
Hydrochemistry and Evolution of Water Quality in a Context of Aridity and Increasing Agriculture in Three River Sub-Basins of Santiago Island (Cape Verde)
Geosciences 2021, 11(6), 263; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11060263 - 21 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 545
Abstract
In regions under development and facing recurrent droughts, increasing the area of irrigated agriculture may create additional disruption in water resources management. The present study was focused on three river sub-basins with the highest agricultural intensity (S. Miguel, Ribeira Seca and S. Domingos) [...] Read more.
In regions under development and facing recurrent droughts, increasing the area of irrigated agriculture may create additional disruption in water resources management. The present study was focused on three river sub-basins with the highest agricultural intensity (S. Miguel, Ribeira Seca and S. Domingos) in Santiago Island (Cape Verde). Sets of wells were selected to evaluate the influence of salinization and agriculture practices on the hydrochemistry. This assessment was performed by using data from the bibliography (2003) and a recent campaign (2016). The water chemistry indicates lower mineralization in the S. Miguel sub-basin. Nitrates and nitrites, typically associated with diffuse pollution, are present in all sub-basins, but with varying patterns. Additionally, sodium chloride waters occur in all the three sub-basins, especially those closest to the coastline. In turn, a bicarbonate-magnesium facies was identified in S. Domingos, at the furthest point from the coast, indicating a geological control. The comparison between the two periods suggests a decrease in water quality. The rising extension of the irrigation area associated with aridity should intensify the already observed soil salinization. Thus, the present review highlights the strategic importance of water monitoring at the basin level as a management tool for resources preservation in insular arid and developing regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Systems Quality and Pollution Control)
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Article
Distribution and Assessment of Trace Elements Contamination in Sediments of Conceição River Basin, Brazil
Geosciences 2021, 11(6), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11060236 - 31 May 2021
Viewed by 728
Abstract
The Conceição river basin, in Quadrilátero Ferrífero (Iron Quadrangle), Brazil, has a long mining history which dates back to the late 17th century, with large gold and iron mines. These activities may be associated with river sediment contamination by trace elements, which were [...] Read more.
The Conceição river basin, in Quadrilátero Ferrífero (Iron Quadrangle), Brazil, has a long mining history which dates back to the late 17th century, with large gold and iron mines. These activities may be associated with river sediment contamination by trace elements, which were evaluated in this paper by the enrichment factor (EF) and contamination factor (CF). Potential ecological risks, assessed by combining sediment quality control guidelines (SQCG) and potential ecological risk indexes (Er and RI), are presented. Anomalous values for As (92.5 mg·kg−1), Cd (22.49 mg·kg−1), Cr (2582 mg·kg−1), Cu (65.9 mg·kg−1), Pb (58.6 mg·kg−1) and Zn (133.4 mg·kg−1) are observed. The EF and CF indexes indicate contamination by Cd, Cr, Fe, Mn, Ni and Zn in at least one site, with the highest values for Fe and Mn downstream of the iron mines, and Cr and Ni close to the gold mines. According to the SQGC and Er, As, Cd, Cr, and Ni are the most probable to result in adverse effects on sediment-dwelling organisms in this study. The results of principal component analysis (PCA) indicate distinct lithological units as sources of the analyzed elements, which, associated with the indexes, made it possible for the first time to delimit and classify the high concentrations of some analyzed elements as contamination in the Conceição river basin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Systems Quality and Pollution Control)
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Article
DRASTICAI, a New Index for Groundwater Vulnerability Assessment—A Portuguese Case Study
Geosciences 2021, 11(6), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11060228 - 25 May 2021
Viewed by 715
Abstract
Groundwater vulnerability assessment has become a useful tool for groundwater pollution prevention. Groundwater vulnerability maps provide useful data for protecting groundwater resources. Identification of agricultural patterns is an important issue for optimized land management. The watershed of the Tagus River is the backbone [...] Read more.
Groundwater vulnerability assessment has become a useful tool for groundwater pollution prevention. Groundwater vulnerability maps provide useful data for protecting groundwater resources. Identification of agricultural patterns is an important issue for optimized land management. The watershed of the Tagus River is the backbone of this study. Naturtejo UNESCO Global Geopark, in the central interior of Portugal, corresponds to a rural area. Intensive agricultural practices showed an increasing trend in the last decades. The method that is most used internationally to assess vulnerability is the DRASTIC index. In this study, the DRASTICAI index is introduced. A new attribute—anthropogenic influence—is added here. Five levels of increasing vulnerability, from low to high, can be recognized here. The municipality of Idanha-a-Nova is most affected by intensive agricultural activities, showing spatial patterns of DRASTICAI with a clear influence of anthropogenic activities, with high needs for groundwater abstraction. A robust assessment of groundwater quality has a key role. Climate change scenarios and water scarcity are important issues in the coming years, and particularly in the studied area. Therefore, optimized groundwater management is essential to consider in policy-making strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Systems Quality and Pollution Control)
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Article
Water-Rock Interaction and Potential Contamination Risk in a U-Enriched Area
Geosciences 2021, 11(5), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11050217 - 15 May 2021
Viewed by 646
Abstract
The Picoto mining area is in the village of Vilar Seco (Viseu), central Portugal. Mineralization occurs mainly in quartz veins with meta-torbernite and uranophane and some U-bearing minerals, cutting a Variscan granite. Exploitation took place in two phases, between 1917 and 1953, and [...] Read more.
The Picoto mining area is in the village of Vilar Seco (Viseu), central Portugal. Mineralization occurs mainly in quartz veins with meta-torbernite and uranophane and some U-bearing minerals, cutting a Variscan granite. Exploitation took place in two phases, between 1917 and 1953, and since the closure, the area has never been remediated. Water–rock interaction processes, including the mobility of potentially toxic elements through soil and water (surface and groundwater), were identified with the determination in situ of physicochemical parameters and selected anions and cations, by ICP-OES. The soils are contaminated with As (>44 mg/kg), Cu (>23 mg/kg), and U (>40 mg/kg) and cannot be used for agricultural or domestic purposes. The waters are generally weakly mineralized and have pH values ranging from acidic to neutral. However, some of them are contaminated with NO2 (up to 2.3 mg/L), Fe (up to 1849 mg/L), Mn (up to 777 mg/L), Cu (up to 5.4 µg/L), As (up to 14.7 µg/L), and U (up to 66.2 µg/L) and cannot be used for human consumption or agricultural activities. The soil and water contamination are mainly related to the old mine activities and the subsequent human activities that have developed in the area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Systems Quality and Pollution Control)
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Article
Changes Induced by Self-Burning in Technosols from a Coal Mine Waste Pile: A Hydropedological Approach
Geosciences 2021, 11(5), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11050195 - 29 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 593
Abstract
Coal mining originates environmental impacts on soil and water bodies, including the leaching of Potentially Toxic Elements (PTEs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in mine waste piles. This research aims to identify and characterize changes induced by self-burning in Technosols from a coal [...] Read more.
Coal mining originates environmental impacts on soil and water bodies, including the leaching of Potentially Toxic Elements (PTEs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in mine waste piles. This research aims to identify and characterize changes induced by self-burning in Technosols from a coal mine waste pile by means of a comprehensive hydropedological assessment encompassing geochemical, mineralogical, and hydrological data, bearing in mind the potential leaching of PTEs and PAHs. The soil profile from two contiguous areas (an area with normal pedological evolution vs. an area affected by self-burning) was characterized in terms of morphological features. Each soil horizon was sampled and analyzed for geochemical and mineralogical characterization. The unsaturated hydraulic conductivity (Ki) was also measured in all soil horizons. Finally, the leaching potential of PTEs and PAHs in water was evaluated. Several changes induced by self-burning were identified in the studied Technosols: development of specific soil horizons; destruction of humified organic matter; contrasting geochemical composition, especially in the deeper horizons; mineralogical modifications, pointing to clay minerals with higher ion exchange capacity and higher specific surface by sulphates of lower structural order; diverse Ki values in the intermediate and lower part of the soil profile; and specific susceptibility to leaching of PTEs and PAHs. The research demonstrated that self-burning causes severe changes of hydropedological relevance, with influence on the leaching of PTEs and PAHs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Systems Quality and Pollution Control)
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Article
Evaluation of the Environmental Risk of Contaminated Materials: Advice on the Most Appropriate Environmental Remediation Techniques
Geosciences 2021, 11(4), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11040164 - 04 Apr 2021
Viewed by 634
Abstract
This work addresses the contamination of the sediments of an alluvial plain and riverbed of a tributary of the San Francisco River, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, by potentially toxic elements from an industrial unit of metallic alloys production. This area [...] Read more.
This work addresses the contamination of the sediments of an alluvial plain and riverbed of a tributary of the San Francisco River, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, by potentially toxic elements from an industrial unit of metallic alloys production. This area was subdivided into four areas (A1, A2, A3, and A0 (background area)) where sediment samples have been collected followed by geochemical characterization and spatial distribution of the contaminants. This characterization was based on the (1) analysis of dissolved elements in the interstitial waters, (2) identification of exchangeable and carbonates bounded fractions, and (3) leaching tests using deionized water adjusted to the local pH. This analysis revealed high levels mainly in Cd, Pb, and Zn, in the interstitial waters and in the more soluble phases of sediments. The comparison between the levels of these elements in the leached extracts and the more soluble fractions corroborates the high capacity of these elements to be leached from the alluvium following precipitation episodes. The geochemical characterization and spatial distribution of the contaminants will allow, in the near future, a choice of the most appropriate environmental remediation technique(s) for the environmental requalification of this area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Systems Quality and Pollution Control)
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Article
Water Management of River Beaches—A Portuguese Case Study
Geosciences 2021, 11(4), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11040152 - 27 Mar 2021
Viewed by 783
Abstract
The quality of water is crucial for the qualification of river beaches. The Cávado River watershed (Northern Portugal) contains five river beaches with a regular and specific mandatory monitorization. The main subject of this research is the evaluation of spatial and temporal water [...] Read more.
The quality of water is crucial for the qualification of river beaches. The Cávado River watershed (Northern Portugal) contains five river beaches with a regular and specific mandatory monitorization. The main subject of this research is the evaluation of spatial and temporal water microbiological and physicochemical parameters to assess the water quality improvement and consequently watershed management. The results of monitoring surface water, considering microbiological parameters from the five river beaches (2015/19), and physicochemical parameters from three water points along the Cávado River (2018/19) were considered. The river beaches located upstream of the town of Braga has an “excellent” and “good” quality, while the river beach located downstream shows a lower water quality. The physicochemical water results indicated that there is a progressive degradation of water quality from upstream to downstream of the river, which is associated with the influence of domestic and industrial activities. To improve water quality, continuous monitoring will be necessary, with the implementation of adequate awareness-raising programs and strategic water quality management by the population and local agents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Systems Quality and Pollution Control)
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Article
Environmental Factors and Metal Mobilisation in Alluvial Sediments—Minas Gerais, Brazil
Geosciences 2021, 11(3), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11030110 - 01 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 599
Abstract
In areas contaminated by potentially toxic elements (PTEs), knowledge of processes of metal mobilisation is the basis for the choice of appropriate remediation methodologies. The mobilisation of metals is a function of several factors, and the response to these factors must be well [...] Read more.
In areas contaminated by potentially toxic elements (PTEs), knowledge of processes of metal mobilisation is the basis for the choice of appropriate remediation methodologies. The mobilisation of metals is a function of several factors, and the response to these factors must be well known during the planning of remediation strategies. The activity of an ore metallurgical plant in South-East Brazil resulted in major contamination by several heavy metals. Reversing the contamination’s negative impact required geochemical assessment of the area, including the physicochemical characterisation, quantification, and delimitation of PTEs, and the rating of the solubilisation/mobilisation capacity of these elements. The definition of spatial patterns for PTEs’ distribution allowed the construction of contamination risk maps which work as a tool for the mitigation and control of the contamination plume. The chemical analysis of interstitial water and selective and sequential extraction methodologies showed that elements that occur in the environment in critical concentrations (Zn, Cd, Pb, As) are mostly associated with easily mobilised forms (soluble, exchangeable cations, associated with Mn oxides). Given the great mobility of the contamination plume, any process of removal of contaminated material becomes unfeasible, thus the strategy of remediation for the stream and associated alluvial deposits must be based on methods of in situ decontamination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Systems Quality and Pollution Control)
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Review

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Review
Mitigation of Uranium Mining Impacts—A Review on Groundwater Remediation Technologies
Geosciences 2021, 11(6), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11060250 - 08 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 992
Abstract
Groundwater contamination is one of the most concerning issues from uranium mining activities. Radionuclides cannot be destroyed or degraded, unlike some organic contaminants (and similar to metals). Besides, sites, where radionuclides may be found, are mainly radioactive and mixed waste disposal areas, and [...] Read more.
Groundwater contamination is one of the most concerning issues from uranium mining activities. Radionuclides cannot be destroyed or degraded, unlike some organic contaminants (and similar to metals). Besides, sites, where radionuclides may be found, are mainly radioactive and mixed waste disposal areas, and therefore many other contaminants may also be present in groundwater. The state-of-the-art of environmental technology is continually changing, and thus a review on technologies application is of utmost relevance. This work gives an overview of the available remediation technologies for groundwater contaminated with radionuclides resulting mainly from uranium mining. For each technology, a theoretical background is provided; the state of development, limitations, efficiency, and potential adverse effects are also approached. Examples of application and performance monitoring of remediation progress are described, and criteria for the selection of the appropriate remediation technology are given. The most effective remediation technology will always be site-specific as a result of the multitude of geographic and operational factors that influence the effluent quality and impact the technical feasibility of treatment methods. Ion exchange, chemical precipitation, and membrane filtration have been considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) as best demonstrated available technologies for radium and uranium removal. Several factors have been demonstrated to influence the selection of a remediation technology (technological aspects and non-technical factors), but even for the technologies demonstrated or industrial proven, two important challenges remain; the (still) mobile radionuclides and the generation of secondary wastes. Besides, remediation technologies are constantly evolving, but future advancement depends on rigorously monitored, documented efficiency, and results achieved. Therefore, the technologies approached in this paper are by no means exhaustive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Systems Quality and Pollution Control)
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