Magnetic particle characterization in the Seine river system: Implications for the determination of natural versus anthropogenic input



[1] This study presents an innovative application of well-established environmental magnetic proxy parameters on fluvial sediments, with the aim to trace geological and human-induced processes in the complex Seine river drainage system in northern France. We seek to identify environmental fingerprints of mechanical and chemical weathering processes, the regional distribution of the suspended material, and changes in the balance of natural input versus anthropogenic pollution. In order to reach these goals, we applied a combination of rock magnetic and advanced scanning electron microscopic techniques on a large number of sediment trap samples. Generally, we observe an increase in magnetic concentration coupled with a coarsening in magnetic grain size downstream of the Seine river system. Furthermore, the dominant magnetomineralogy changes from high-coercivity minerals upstream in more rural areas to magnetite-dominated assemblages downstream. Each river (segment) shows its specific trend line depending on regional initial input, weathering conditions, drainage area, and potential pollution sources. One major outcome of this study is the observed significant correlation between anthropogenic antimony-rich iron oxide particles and the magnetic concentration. This shows the potential of magnetic remanence measurements as proxy parameters for specific heavy metal pollution concentrations. Hence, the environmental magnetic study presented herein serves to identify major trends as well as local particularities and leads to quantitative analyses of the contributions of individual tributaries in the Seine river system.