Iron ore tailings as a source of nutrients to the coastal zone

Eduardo Schettini Costa*, Renata Caiado Cagnin, Cesar Alexandro da Silva, Cybelle Menolli Longhini, Fabian Sá, Ana Teresa Lima, Luiz Eduardo de Oliveira Gomes, Angelo Fraga Bernardino, Renato Rodrigues Neto

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The Fundão dam rupture was one of the largest environmental disasters worldwide and released millions of m3 of iron ore tailings into the Doce River basin in southeastern Brazil. Here we assessed the supply of dissolved nutrients associated to tailings in the Doce River estuary and its adjacent coastal zone. First, we observed an acute increase in dissolved silicates (From 16.26 μM to 175.47 μM) and nitrate (From 5.56 μM to 50.69 μM) in the estuary when compared to days prior to the event. Coastal marine ecosystems showed significant concentrations of nitrite (From 0.72 μM to 2.99 μM) and phosphate (From 0.09 μM to 2.30 μM) one year after the disaster, which we attribute mainly to nutrient recycling. The chronic effects include an increase in nutrient load to the coastal zone with a predominance of nitrogenous species, which may increase the limitation of phosphorus and silica to marine primary production.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number112725
    JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


    • Coastal zone
    • Dissolved nutrients
    • Environmental disaster
    • Ore tailings


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