The physical and chemical characteristics of the oxidized surface sediment in an estuary fluctuate temporally in response to physical forces and apparently-fluctuating inputs. These characteristics, which include grain size and concentrations of organic materials and iron, will influence both trace-metal geochemistry and bioavailability. Temporal trends in the abundance of fine particles, total organic carbon content (TOC), absorbance of extractable organic material (EOM), and concentration of extractable iron in the sediment of San Francisco Bay were assessed using data sets containing approximately monthly samples for periods of two to seven years. Changes in wind velocity and runoff result in monthly changes in the abundance of fine particles in the intertidal zone. Fine-grained particles are most abundant in the late fall/early winter when runoff is elevated and wind velocities are low; particles are coarser in the summer when runoff is low and wind velocities are consistently high. Throughout the bay, TOC is linearly related to fine particle abundance (r = 0.61). Temporal variability occurs in this relationship, as particles are poor in TOC relative to percent of fine particles in the early rainy season. Iron-poor particles also appear to enter the estuary during high runoff periods; while iron is enriched on particle surfaces in the summer. Concentrations of extractable iron and absorbance of EOM vary strongly from year to year. Highest absorbances of EOM occurred in the first year following the drought in 1976-77, and in 1982 and 1983 when river discharge was unusually high. Extractable-iron concentrations were also highest in 1976-77, but were very low in 1982 and 1983. ?? 1985 Dr W. Junk Publishers.
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Temporal fluctuations in grain size, organic materials and iron concentrations in intertidal surface sediment of San Francisco Bay