Geochemistry of surface sediments in tsunami-affected Sri Lankan lagoons regarding environmental implications|
Jayawardana, D.T; Ishiga, H & Pitawala, H. M. T. G. A
The December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was one of the largest in human history, devastating the coastal wetlands of surrounding countries. This study present the chemical analyses of tsunamigenic and pre-tsunami sediments from Hikkaduwa and Hambantota lagoons in southern Sri Lanka, to assess their geochemical composition, their source, and subsequent environmental impacts. Principal component analysis of the tsunami sediments shows that 42% of the total variance is accounted for calcium oxide and Sr. That is, the tsunami deposits are rich in biogenic phases derived from shallow marine sediments. High organic matter contents of the tsunami sediments of up to 80 wt% also support this interpretation. The association of chlorine (<9.4 wt%), brome (<170 mg/kg), arsenic (<17 mg/kg), iron (III) oxide (<12.9 wt%) and sulfur (<7.6 wt%) accounts for 33% of the variance, reflecting higher salinity. This further suggests that the sediments were mainly derived from a marine environment, rather than from non-marine sands and/or soils. Immobile element contents and relations (thorium, scandium and zirconium) suggest that the tsunami sediment source was mostly felsic in composition, with some mafic component, and mixed with predominantly shallow marine shelf or slope sediments. Additional compositional variations in the tsunami sediments in both lagoons may be associated with variations of wave strength along the coast and by the morphology of the continental shelf. Lower elemental abundances in Hambantota lagoon sediments compared to Hikkaduwa equivalents may thus reflect a greater non-marine component in the former, and greater shelf sediment component in the latter.
Composition; Major elements; Total sulfur; Trace elements