SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1995

New Procedures for Measuring Trace Metals in Pore Waters


The most mobile and biological and chemically active fractions of trace metals in sediments are the dissolved components present in pore waters. Measuring metals in pore waters is complicated by the requirement for anoxic handling procedures. Due to the dynamic nature of sediment, steep concentration gradients extending over as little as 1 mm may develop at the sediment-water interface. New procedures for measuring metals in pore waters using polyacrylamide gels as in-situ probes are described. The gel can be used to establish a diffusive equilibration in a thin-film (DET). Because the film is typically less than 1 mm thick, equilibration is achieved within five minutes and insertion of the gel assembly causes minimal disturbance of sediment. An alternative procedure is to use a diffusive gradient in a thin-film (DGT), whereby a monolayer of chelating resin is incorporated at one side of the gel. Such a technique provides a kinetic measurement of labile species in solution. If the supply of metal from solid phase sediment to pore waters is fast enough, DGT provides a quantitative estimate of labile metal concentration. Alternatively, it measures directly the rate of supply of metal from solid phase to pore waters. As both DET and DGT are simple procedures capable of submillimetre spatial resolution, they provide previously unobtainable information on trace metal concentrations and fluxes. Furthermore, DGT has the potential to be used as a long-term monitor, providing mean concentrations of metals in sediment pore waters over periods of days, weeks, or even months.

Author Information

Zhang, H
Lancaster University, Lancaster, U.K
Davison, W
Lancaster University, Lancaster, U.K
Grime, GW
Nuclear Physics Laboratory, University of Oxford, Oxford, U.K.
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Developed by Committee: D18
Pages: 170–181
DOI: 10.1520/STP15999S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5316-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2028-0