Copper in Galician ria sediments: natural levels and harbour contamination


  • Ana García Marine Research Institute, CSIC
  • Patricia Bernárdez Marine Research Institute, CSIC
  • Ricardo Prego Marine Research Institute, CSIC



metal, sediment, background concentrations, harbour, ria, NW Iberian Peninsula


Copper distribution, natural background and contamination levels in sediments of the Galician rias were assessed from 389 surface sediment samples and five sediment cores. The natural reference concentration of copper can be estimated using the Cu-Fe relationship obtained from preindustrial sediments of rias: [Cu (mg kg–1)] / [Fe (g kg–1)] = 0.55. Severe copper contamination was mainly observed in the harbour, fishing ports and shipyards near shore areas of the Galician coast. Therefore, the rias of Ferrol and Vigo were the most environmentally disturbed, while the northern Galician rias were the least disturbed. The Galician case can be seen as the type of copper contamination due to maritime activities observed in other world harbours.


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How to Cite

García A, Bernárdez P, Prego R. Copper in Galician ria sediments: natural levels and harbour contamination. scimar [Internet]. 2013Mar.30 [cited 2022Aug.14];77(S1):91-9. Available from: