Distributions in time and space of Ag, Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn were determined in fine-grained sediments and in the filter-feeding bivalve Corbicula sp. of Suisun Bay/delta at the mouth of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers in North San Francisco Bay. Samples were collected from seven stations at near-monthly intervals for 3 years. Aggregated data showed little chronic contamination with Ag, Zn and Pb in the river and estuary. Substantial chronic contamination with Cd, Cu and Cr in Suisun Bay/delta occurred, especially in Corbicula, compared with the lower San Joaquin River. Salinity appeared to have secondary effects, if any, on metal concentrations in sediments and metal bioavailability to bivalves. Space/time distributions of Cr were controlled by releases from a local industry. Analyses of time series suggested substantial inputs of Cu might originate from the Sacramento River during high inflows to the Bay, and Cd contamination had both riverine and local sources. Concentrations of metals in sediments correlated with concentrations in Corbicula only in annually or 3-year aggregated data. Condition index for Corbicula was reduced where metal contamination was most severe. The biological availability of Cu and Cd to benthos was greater in Suisun Bay than in many other estuaries. Thus small inputs into this system could have greater impacts than might occur elsewhere; and organisms were generally more sensitive indicators of enrichment than sediments in this system.
Additional publication details
Temporally intensive study of trace metals in sediments and bivalves from a large river-estuarine system: Suisun Bay/delta in San Francisco Bay