Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Special scientific report; no. 99


Heavy metals have been found associated with suspended material, sediments and fluid mud in the Chesapeake Bay. A series of field observations were made along the Bay axis to determine the metal concentrations and their distributions at relatively high and at average river inflow between March 27-April 9 and May 2-10, 1979.

Metal concentrations in suspended material per unit volume of water relate to the concentrations of suspended material. They are higher in the zone of the turbidity maximum than landward in river water or seaward in estuarine water. Thus, metals associated with suspended material tend to accumulate in the maximum at the inner limit of salty water. Metal concentrations per gram of suspended material in the northern Bay above Annapolis (station 12), exhibit significant metal to metal correlations for Ni-Fe, Zn-Fe and Mn-Fe. Metalmetal ratios normalized to iron in near-bottom suspended material are similar to those in surface bed sediment.

Metal concentrations in surface bed sediments and fluid mud tend to decrease with distance seaward from the Susquehanna River mouth. The greatest decrease occurs seaward from the Potomac River (station 8). As, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn per gram of sediment are strongly correlated with Fe. Metal ratios of northern Bay sediment, e.g. Pb-Fe, Cu-Fe, Sn-Fe, Zn-Fe are similar to those found in Baltimore Harbor, and thus suggest a harbor source. An inventory of new metal and sediment data is now available for improving management of the Bay.



Heavy metals -- Environmental aspects -- Chesapeake Bay (Md. and Va.); Estuarine sediments -- Chesapeake Bay (Md. and Va.); Suspended sediments -- Chesapeake Bay (Md. and Va.); Sediments (Geology); Coastal sediments



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