Research output

Estuaries as filters: The role of tidal marshes in trace metal removal

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article


  • Johannes Teuchies
  • Wouter Vandenbruwaene
  • Roos Carpentier
  • Lieven Bervoets
  • Stijn Temmerman
  • Chen Wang
  • Tom Maris
  • Tom J.S. Cox
  • Patrick Meire

External Organisations

  • Universiteit Antwerpen
  • Waterbouwkundig Laboratorium Antwerpen
  • Ecobe, Universiteit Antwerpen


Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Flux calculations demonstrate that many estuaries are natural filters for trace metals. Yet, the underlying processes are poorly investigated. In the present study, it was hypothesized that intertidal marshes contribute significantly to the
contaminant filter function of estuaries. Trace metal concentrations and sediment characteristics were measured along a transect from the subtidal, over an intertidal flat and marsh to a restored marsh with controlled reduced tide. Metal
concentrations in the intertidal and restored marsh were found to be a factor two to five higher than values in the subtidal and intertidal flat sediments. High metal concentrations and high accretion rates indicate a high metal accumulation
capacity of the intertidal marshes. Overbank sedimentation in the tidal marshes of the entire estuary was calculated to remove 25% to 50% of the riverine metal influx, even though marshes comprise less than 8% of the total surface of the
estuary. In addition, the large-scale implementation of planned tidal marsh restoration projects was estimated to almost double the trace metal storage capacity of the present natural tidal marshes in the estuary.

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