Metals in sediments of springs and cave streams as environmental indicators in karst areas


The content of heavy metals and arsenic in sediments of karst streams in southern Missouri was investigated for its potential use as an indicator of pollution. A three-step sequential extraction procedure was utilized for this purpose. The amount of trace elements bound to each extraction phase gives insight of its availability and geochemical dependence. These results were complemented with analyses of correlation and spatial variability. Although sediments collected in this study remained below EPA’s critical value guidelines, concentration in the mobile phases and higher normalized Mn values successfully identified sites with concentrations higher than background levels. Correlation among elements was poor in most cases; among the trace metals only Cu and Zn correlated while Pb correlated with Ca, Al, Mn and Fe. Spatial variability analysis confirmed that natural variation among adjacent sediment samples is a common occurrence. The urban spring Ward Branch showed the highest levels of Cr, Zn, Pb and As.


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Document Type





sequential extraction, sediment, Karst, water quality indicator, Ozarks Missouri

Publication Date


Recommended Citation

Gutierrez, M., H. Neill, and R. V. Grand. "Metals in sediments of springs and cave streams as environmental indicators in karst areas." Environmental Geology 46, no. 8 (2004): 1079-1085.

Journal Title

Environmental Geology