BEHAVIOUR OF CARBON, PHOSPHORUS AND NITROGEN IN THE SEDIMENTARY ENVIRONMENT OF A LOTIC ECOSYSTEM- KARAMANA RIVER, SOUTH KERALAP.R. JAYARAMAN, PRADEEP SANKAR, T. GANGA DEVI AND T. VASUDEVAN NAYAR
Surficial sediment samples collected for a period of one year from February 1998 to January 1999 from 10 Stations along the Ka ramana river which serves as the main source of potable water to people of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, were analyzed for their organic carbon, total nitrogen and total phosphorus and their relationships to delineate their behaviour, status and extent of pollution. Significant spatial and temporal variations were noticed in the distribution of these elements. The amount of sediment organic carbon (0.32 - 27.26 mg g-'), total phosphorus (0.08 - 0.84 mg g-') and nitrogen (0.04 - 2.17 mg g-l) in the river was found to be lower as compared to most of the of water bodies with moderate to high levels of pollution. Organic carbon showed a proportional and patent relationship with the finer fractions of the sediment. Total sedimentary phosphorus and nitrogen registered low, yet significant positive correlations with sediment organic carbon and silt+clay fractions that suggested a major portion of these elements in sediment to be abiogenic, originating from agricultural and domestic effluents or mineral matter that was subsequently influenced by planktonic assimilation, diagenesis and mineralization in the sedimentary environment. No relationship was evident between nitrogen and phosphorus that disproved any genetic relationship between these two elements. In general, the present investigation revealed that these elements are predominantly a llochthonous in nature suggesting an abiogenic origin and their concentrations have not reached any alarming level in spite of the close proximity of the river to plantations, agricultural fields and sewage outlets.
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