Fate of persistent organic pollutants in the water column: Does turbulent mixing matter?

Elena Jurado, José Manuel Zaldívar, Dimitar Marinov, Jordi Dachs

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of vertical turbulent mixing on the dynamics of persistent organic pollutants has long been overlooked and its role is still hardly understood. Here we present the first comprehensive analysis of the role of turbulent diffusion on the distribution of those contaminants and its interplay with sinking fluxes. To this end, a 1D dynamic coupled hydrodynamic-contaminant model has been developed and applied to a Mediterranean continental shelf environment. The hydrodynamic sub-model is adapted from COHERENS, the contaminant sub-model is an improvement from the BIODEP model and considers the contaminant in 3 phases: dissolved-colloidal-particulate. The simulation highlights the role of turbulence in determining the POP distribution and variability in the water column. In short, turbulent flux of contaminants strengthens the upward diffusion of sediment entrained contaminants and determines the extent to which inputs from the atmosphere mix into the water column. It acts in parallel with degradation and sinking fluxes, the combined effect yielding a surface enriched - depth depleted - benthic layer enriched region distribution, which presents similarities to reported experimental measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-451
Number of pages11
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Contaminant model
  • Hydrodynamic model
  • PCBs
  • POPs
  • Sinking
  • Turbulence


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