The impact of the 1999 Mw 7.4 event in the Izmit Bay (Turkey) on anthropogenic contaminant (PCBs, PAHs and PBDEs) concentrations recorded in a deep sediment core

Giuliani S., Bellucci L. G., Cagatay M. N., Polonia A., Piazza R., Vecchiato M., ...More

SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, vol.590, pp.799-808, 2017 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


The 1999 Mw 7.4 earthquake triggered a tremendous human tragedy and had a great social impact over the population of the Izmit Bay, one of the most industrialized area of Turkey. Although the successive environmental disasters were well documented, information on its sedimentary record is lacking. The present research aims at filling this gap, through the analysis of organic contaminants (PCBs, PAHs, and PBDEs) in a dated sediment core collected in the depocenter of the Karamursel Basin in 2005. Profiles of total PCBs and total PAHs overlap the timing of industrialization in the area (starting in the 1960s) with values increasing as the population and the number of industrial plants grew larger. Profiles for PBDEs are in accordance with increasing urban inputs but are probably affected by processes of natural formation and post-depositional mixing. The continuous sedimentary record is interrupted at a level dating back to 1980 due to the erosion caused by the 1999 earthquake, having removed a 5-7 cm thick sediment layer. Contaminant concentrations in the deepest 10-15 cm of a 30 cm thick seismo-turbidite unit, triggered by the 1999 event, increase with the progressive fining up and evidence massive transport of sediments from coastal, more polluted sites of the north-eastern Karamursel shelves and shores. Additional inputs of PAHs are also evident, originating from a fire at the oil refinery that followed the shaking. The effects of the earthquake generated tsunami, its backwash fluxes and the following seiches are not uniquely displayed by each class of contaminants, and they could probably reflect successive inputs deriving from different parts of the basin that are subject to anthropogenic impacts of different nature. Concentrations measured at the top of the core are consistent with an unvaried input of pollutants in the period 1980-2005. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.