Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Doñana National Park could be affected by agricultural pollutants in subsurface water

10.10.2008
The Almontes-Marismas aquifer, close to the Doñana National Park, contains higher-than-normal levels of heavy metals.

A study published in the latest issue of Environmental Geology now confirms that the major source of contamination in the upper part of the aquifer is of agricultural origin. Scientists forecast that, over time, the most mobile pollutants will reach the deepest parts of the aquifer, affecting one of the most important wetland areas in Europe.

The Doñana National Park, which covers 760 km2 and has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, could be at risk from progressive ecological damage over coming decades. Manuel Olías Álvarez, from the Department of Geodynamics and Palaeontology at the University of Huelva, and lead author of a new study on agricultural pollution, told SINC that although the movement of subsurface water is very slow, “pollutants such as nitrates will reach the park area” and that, over time, these will affect the deepest parts of the aquifer.

A team of scientists from the universities of Huelva and Cadiz reached this conclusion after studying variations in the quality of subsurface water in the Almonte-Marismas aquifer in Doñana. The hydrogeochemical features of the water (temperature, pH, electrical conductivity, dissolved oxygen and oxidation / reduction potential) show high nitrate and sulphate levels at the aquifer’s surface.

In seeking possible anthropogenical (caused by human action) factors influencing the quality of subsurface water, the scientists found that the areas of the aquifer where intensive agriculture is carried out contained the highest concentrations of pollutants. “The water table is very close to the surface and the soil is very sandy and permeable, with very little capacity to retain pollutants, which makes the aquifer very vulnerable,” Olías told SINC.

All the heavy metals found in the subsurface water of the aquifer at above-average concentrations were linked to agricultural pollution. Metals present, such as aluminium, cobalt, chrome and nickel, for example, which had a similar distribution pattern to the sulphates and nitrates, came from fertilisers or pesticides used in traditional agriculture.

The pollutants have been found in the upper part of the aquifer in agricultural areas, but “the subsurface water flows towards deeper areas and the interior of the Doñana National Park (except in the coastal area, where the water flows towards the sea),” the researcher pointed out. The quality of the water in the Almontes-Marismas aquifer is affected by lithological factors, the amount of time it has been present in the aquifer, and agricultural and urban pollution. The sulphates and nitrates, and other trace elements such as bromides, are stratified within the aquifer.

In order to avoid these pollutants increasing still further, the researcher suggests the “only solution” being a change to an organic agricultural model that does not use fertilisers or pesticides, since it is “almost impossible for intensive agriculture not to pollute the aquifer”. The study says that sustainable agriculture is increasingly being carried out in order to limit the concentration of metals, but that “greater efforts are needed to control subsurface water pollution”.

Subsurface water started to be exploited “intensively” for agriculture in the areas surrounding Doñana and to supply the tourist resort of Matalascañas from the 1970s onwards. The research now published highlights numerous other studies that show the alarming impact on the park of the withdrawal of subsurface water. “We are already seeing a large range of changes taking place in some ecosystems near the areas where subsurface water is being most intensively removed,” say the researchers.

SINC Team | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Researchers discover a new link to fight billion-dollar threat to soybean production
14.02.2017 | University of Missouri-Columbia

nachricht Important to maintain a diversity of habitats in the sea
14.02.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Positrons as a new tool for lithium ion battery research: Holes in the electrode

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New insights into the information processing of motor neurons

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Healthy Hiking in Smart Socks

22.02.2017 | Innovative Products

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>