Trace metals distribution between the surface waters of the Gulf of Cadiz and the Alboran Sea

Orihuela-García, M. Andrea and Bolado-Penagos, Marina and Sala, Iria and Tovar-Sánchez, Antonio and García, Carlos M. and Bruno, Miguel and Echevarría, Fidel and Laiz, Irene (2023) Trace metals distribution between the surface waters of the Gulf of Cadiz and the Alboran Sea. Science of the Total Environment, 858 (Part 2). 159662. ISSN 1879-1026 (

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This study was conducted to address the changes in the surface distribution of trace metals (cobalt, copper, iron, cadmium, nickel, zinc, lead and molybdenum) as they are advected from the Gulf of Cadiz to the Alboran Sea, through the Strait of Gibraltar (south Iberian Peninsula), regions of great ecosystemic importance. Trace metals concentrations were measured in samples collected during two oceanographic cruises, together with the main factors affecting their spatial distribution and temporal variability (i.e., wind and surface currents). Several rivers, the main source of trace metals in this region, flow into the Gulf of Cadiz which is connected with the Alboran Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar by the general circulation pattern. The surface circulation pattern leads to an offshore-eastward gradient that is highly influenced by wind variability. An increase in vertical turbulence induced by the winds or the tidal cycle causes the dilution of trace metals' concentration by mixing rich-metal superficial waters with poor-metal subsurface waters. Additionally, along the eastward displacement of surface waters, several water retention zones have been described (Trafalgar, Camarinal, the Coastal Cyclonic Gyre) that imply an increase in trace metals concentration close to the coast. In addition, our results suggest that the coastal edges of the Strait of Gibraltar also act as a source of certain metals to the Alboran Sea, probably due to the industries in the proximity areas.


Orihuela-García, M. Andrea, Bolado-Penagos, Marina, Sala, Iria ORCID logoORCID:, Tovar-Sánchez, Antonio, García, Carlos M., Bruno, Miguel, Echevarría, Fidel and Laiz, Irene;