A Caltech Library Service

A 120 yr record of widespread contamination from mining of the Iberian pyrite belt

van Geen, A. and Adkins, J. F. and Boyle, E. A. and Nelson, C. H. and Palanques, A. (1997) A 120 yr record of widespread contamination from mining of the Iberian pyrite belt. Geology, 25 (4). pp. 291-294. ISSN 0091-7613.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


A metal-enriched seawater plume entering the western Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar originates 300 km to the west in the Rio Tinto estuary of southwestern Spain. Mining of Rio Tinto ore, one of the largest metal-rich sulfide deposits in the world, started well before Roman times. Contemporary Rio Tinto waters draining the region are highly acidic (pH 2.5) with dissolved cadmium, zinc, and copper concentrations 10^5–10^6 times higher than in uncontaminated surface water of the Gulf of Cadiz. Two dated sediment cores from the Spanish continental shelf show that metal inputs to the region increased with the onset of intensive mining activities during the second half of the 19th century. Although the impact of mining may have decreased over the past few decades, the Tinto river and estuary remain highly contaminated.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Adkins, J. F.0000-0002-3174-5190
Additional Information:© 1997 Geological Society of America. Manuscript received September 11, 1996; Revised manuscript received January 8, 1997; Manuscript accepted January 22, 1997. We thank J. M. Martin for facilitating surface water collection off the Portuguese coast and S. N. Luoma and M. Bacon for use of their laboratories. National Science Foundation Summer Fellow A. Schmid extended the metal contamination record to Roman times. Sample collection in the Rio Tinto-Odiel was funded by the Office of Naval Research. Collection of sediment cores from the Gulf of Cadiz was funded by the Joint Committee of Science and Technology of the United States–Spain Treaty of Friendship. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory contribution no. 5620.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Office of Naval ResearchUNSPECIFIED
United States-Spain Treaty of Friendship Joint Committee of Science and TechnologyUNSPECIFIED
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory contribution5620
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120830-161418780
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:33739
Deposited On:30 Aug 2012 23:51
Last Modified:24 Feb 2020 10:30

Repository Staff Only: item control page