Fractionation of heavy metals and assessment of contamination of the sediments of Lake Titicaca

Luis Fernando Cáceres Choque, Oswaldo Eduardo Ramos Ramos, Sulema N. Valdez Castro, Rigoberto R. Choque Aspiazu, Rocío G. Choque Mamani, Samuel G. Fernández Alcazar, Ondra Sracek, Prosun Bhattacharya

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20 Scopus citations


Chemical weathering is one of the major geochemical processes that control the mobilization of heavy metals. The present study provides the first report on heavy metal fractionation in sediments (8-156 m) of Lake Titicaca (3,820 m a.s.l.), which is shared by the Republic of Peru and the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Both contents of total Cu, Fe, Ni, Co, Mn, Cd, Pb, and Zn and also the fractionation of these heavy metals associated with four different fractions have been determined following the BCR scheme. The principal component analysis suggests that Co, Ni, and Cd can be attributed to natural sources related to the mineralized geological formations. Moreover, the sources of Cu, Fe, and Mn are effluents and wastes generated from mining activities, while Pb and Zn also suggest that their common source is associated to mining activities. According to the Risk Assessment Code, there is a moderate to high risk related to Zn, Pb, Cd, Mn, Co, and Ni mobilization and/or remobilization from the bottom sediment to the water column. Furthermore, the Geoaccumulation Index and the Enrichment Factor reveal that Zn, Pb, and Cd are enriched in the sediments. The results suggest that the effluents from various traditional mining waste sites in both countries are the main source of heavy metal contamination in the sediments of Lake Titicaca.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9979-9994
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Enrichment factor
  • Heavy metals
  • Lake Titicaca
  • Risk Assessment Code
  • Sediments
  • Sequential extraction


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