Shallow marine sediments and fringing coral reefs of the Buyat-Ratototok district of North Sulawesi, Indonesia, are affected by submarine disposal of tailings from industrial gold mining and by small-scale gold mining using mercury amalgamation. Between-site variation in heavy metal concentrations in shallow marine sediments was partially reflected by trace element concentrations in reef coral skeletons from adjacent reefs. Corals skeletons recorded silicon, manganese, iron, copper, chromium, cobalt, antimony, thallium, and lead in different concentrations according to proximity to sources, but arsenic concentrations in corals were not significantly different among sites. Temporal analysis found that peak concentrations of arsenic and chromium generally coincided with peak concentrations of silica and/or copper, suggesting that most trace elements in the coral skeleton were incorporated into detrital siliciclastic sediments, rather than impurities within skeletal aragonite.
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