Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Trace metal associations in the water column of South San Francisco Bay, California

January 1, 1989

Spatial distributions of copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and cadmium (Cd) were followed along a longitudinal gradient of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in South San Francisco Bay (herein referred to as the South Bay). Dissolved Cu, Zn and Cd concentrations ranged from 24 to 66 nM, from 20 to 107 nM and from 1·2 to 4·7 nM, respectively, in samples collected on five dates beginning with the spring phytoplankton bloom and continuing through summer,1985. Dissolved Cu and Zn concentrations varied indirectly with salinity and directly with DOC concentration which ranged from 2·1 to 4·1 mg l−1. Available thermodynamic data strongly support the hypothesis that Cu speciation may be dominated by association with dissolved organic matter. Analogous control of Zn speciation by organic complexation was, however, not indicated in our computations. Computed free ion activity estimates for Cu, Zn and Cd were of the order of 10−10, 10−8 and 10−10 M, respectively. The availability of these metals may be among the factors regulating the growth of certain phytoplankton species within this region of the estuary. In contrast to dissolved Cu, dissolved Cd was directly related to the concentration of suspended particulate matter, suggesting a source of dissolved Cd coincident with elevated particle concentrations in the South Bay (e.g. runoff and solute desorption). Consistent with work in other estuaries, partitioning of all three trace metals onto suspended particulates was negatively correlated with salinity and positively correlated with increases in particulate organic carbon associated with the phytoplankton bloom. These results for the South Bay indicate that sorption processes influence dissolved concentrations of these trace metals, the degree of this influence varies among metals, and processes controlling metal distribution in this estuary appear to be more element-specific than spatially- or temporally-specific.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1989
Title Trace metal associations in the water column of South San Francisco Bay, California
DOI 10.1016/0272-7714(89)90020-6
Authors J.S. Kuwabara, Cecily C.Y. Chang, J. E. Cloern, T. L. Fries, J.A. Davis, S. N. Luoma
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Index ID 70015647
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center; San Francisco Bay-Delta; Toxic Substances Hydrology Program; Pacific Regional Director's Office