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Lake sediments act as a sort of memory of all the phenomena that affect the lake and its drainage basin and have been used to trace the role of human influence in determining the final chemical composition, as opposed to the natural contribution deriving from rock erosion.

This approach has been used to study the evolution of Lake Maggiore, the second largest Italian lake, which has a fairly large watershed and a heterogeneous mineralogy composition. Moreover, this area is well developed as regards industry, commerce and tourism. A number of papers have documented the presence of point sources for nutrients, pesticides, surfactants and toxicants such as As, Cd, Cr, Hg, Se, Zn.

This research offers an unusually long record since the first campaign started in 1962-63, when 174 grab samples were collected from the Southern basin of Lake Maggiore. Later, in 1975, 40 samples were collected from the whole lake; and finally, in 1999 121 samples were again collected form the whole lake.

All samples have been analysed by X-ray fluorescence (Si, Al, Ca, Fe, Mg, Ti, S, P, Pb, Zn, Cu, Ni, Mn and Cr) and by atomic absorption spectrometry (Cd, Hg). Detailed distribution maps for macro- and microelements have been drawn on the base of these analyses.

Moreover, in the last campaign, the sediment samples have been analysed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry to provide further information on Sc, Co, As, and V, which can be used to trace both natural and anthropogenic inputs.

Since the maps of distribution of the different elements mark the changes in chemical composition over four decades, they can easily point out the anthropogenic influences on the geochemical cycling of elements in this environment. ironment.

Additional information

Authors: CENCI M ET AL, JRC, EI, Ispra (IT);BAUDO R, CNR, Instituto Italiano di Idrobiologia, Verbania Pallanza (IT);BELTRAMI M, CNR, Instituto Italiano di Idrobiologia, Verbania Pallanza (IT);BARBERO P, CNR, Instituto Italiano di Idrobiologia, Verbania Pallanza (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: An oral report given at: The 11th International Symposium for Environmental Pollution and its Impact on Life in the Mediterranean Region. Held in: Limassol (CY), 6-10 October 2001
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