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Background levels of heavy metals in surficial sediments of the Gulf of Lions (NW Mediterranean): An approach based on 133Cs normalization and lead isotope measurements

Abstract

This paper presents an attempt to reach natural background levels of heavy metals in surficial sediments of the Gulf of Lions(NW Mediterranean). To correct for the grain-size effect, normalization procedures based on a clay mineral indicator element are commonly used, after a first grain size separation by sieving. In our study, we tested the applicability of this method with respect to commonly used normalizer elements, and found that stable Cs shows the best ability to reflect the fine sediment fraction. Background levels were successfully reached for Co, Cr, Cu, Ni and Pb, compared to various literature references. Nevertheless, in the case of lead, the normalized data depicted a general enrichment in all samples, and the natural levels could only be reached when concentrations were corrected for the atmospheric contribution by analysing lead isotope ratios. Also for Zn, a general enrichment was found in our samples, although less important

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