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Baseline sediment trace metals investigation: Steinhatchee River estuary, Florida, Northeast Gulf of Mexico

Marine Georesources and Geotechnology

By:
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DOI: 10.1080/106411999273864

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Abstract

This Florida Geological Survey/U.S. Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service Cooperative Study provides baseline data for major and trace metal concentrations in the sediments of the Steinhatchee River estuary. These data are intended to provide a benchmark for comparison with future metal concentration data measurements. The Steinhatchee River estuary is a relatively pristine bay located within the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area on the North Central Florida Gulf of Mexico coastline. The river flows 55 km through woodlands and planted pines before emptying into the Gulf at Deadman Harbor. Water quality in the estuary is excellent at present. There is minimal development within the watershed. The estuary is part of an extensive system of marshes that formed along the Florida Gulf coast during the Holocene marine transgression. Sediment accretion rate measurements range from 1.4 to 4.1 mm/yr on the basis of lead-210 measurements. Seventy-nine short cores were collected from 66 sample locations, representing four lithofacies: clay- and organic-rich sands, organic-rich sands, clean quartz sands, and oyster bioherms. Samples were analyzed for texture, total organic matter, total carbon, total nitrogen, clay mineralogy, and major and trace-metal content. Following these analyses, metal concentrations were normalized against geochemical reference elements (aluminum and iron) and against total weight percent organic matter. Metals were also normalized granulometrically against total weight percent fines (<0.062 mm). Concentrations were determined by inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES) for all metals except mercury. Mercury concentrations were determined by cold-flameless atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS). Granulometric measurements were made by sieve and pipette analyses. Organic matter was determined by two methods: weight loss upon ignition and elemental analysis (by Carlo-Erba Furnace) of carbon and nitrogen. X-ray diffraction was used to determine clay mineralogy. Trace-metal concentrations were best correlated when normalized with respect to sediment aluminum concentrations. Normalizations indicate that most major and trace-metal concentrations fall within 95% prediction limits of the expected value. This finding suggests that little significant metal contamination occurred within this system prior to 1994 sediment sampling. Exceptions include lead, mercury, copper, zinc, potassium, and phosphorous. Lead and mercury are elements that generally enter this watershed through atmospheric deposition; thus, anomalous levels of these metals are not necessarily associated with activities within the watershed of the Steinhatchee River estuary. Anomalous concentrations of other metals such as zinc, copper, and phosphorous probably do originate within the Steinhatchee watershed. Copper failed to correlate well with any geochemical or granulometric normalizer, and this condition was not limited to a single facies or area within the estuary. This finding may indicate copper contamination in the system. Increased zinc and copper levels may be attributed to marine paints. Phosphorous levels also appeared to be elevated in a few locations in the two marsh facies sampled. This may be due to nutrient loading from two small communities, Jena and Steinhatchee, or from the application of this element in fertilizer to reduce moisture stress to young planted pines on tree farms within the watershed.The Florida Geological Survey/US Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service Cooperative Study provides baseline data for major and trace metal concentrations in the sediments of the Steinhatchee River estuary. The data are intended to provide a benchmark for comparison with metal concentration data measurements. Seventy nine short cores were collected from 66 sample locations and analyzed. Metal concentrations were normalized against geochemical reference elements and against total weight percen

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Baseline sediment trace metals investigation: Steinhatchee River estuary, Florida, Northeast Gulf of Mexico
Series title:
Marine Georesources and Geotechnology
DOI:
10.1080/106411999273864
Volume
17
Issue:
2-3
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publisher location:
London, United Kingdom
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Marine Georesources and Geotechnology
First page:
187
Last page:
197