Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Michael E. Bender

Committee Member

Robert J. Huggett

Committee Member

Craig Smith

Committee Member

George Grant

Committee Member

Marvin Wass


This project investigated the feasibility of using the brackish water clam Rangia cuneata as a heavy metal pollution indicator, and further investigated the state of heavy metal pollution in the James River. Rangia cuneata were sampled in the fall of 1972 from the Rappahannock and James Rivers , and meats were analyzed by atomic absorption spectrophotometry for wet weight concentrations of copper, zinc, cadmium and lead. Levels of copper and zinc in Rangia cuneata were shown to be unaffected by clam size, spawning differences, salinity or distance upriver, and substrate grain size. Heavy metal concentrations in the oxidized channel sediments, determined from other studies conducted at the same time, were compared to levels in Rangia cuneata, but no relationships were found. Lead was below detection limits (0.2 ppm) in Rangia cuneata at all stations, and cadmium levels appeared to be consistent in both rivers. Copper was found to increase upriver in the James, indicating an upstream source, and zinc concentrations were found to peak at the mouth of the Chickahominy River. A number of possible causes were cited. This dissertation is from the Joint Program Degree from the College of William & Mary and University of Virginia and awarded by the University of Virginia.



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