This report presents the results for two sampling periods (October 2008 and January 2009) during a 4-year monitoring program to characterize selenium concentrations in selected irrigation drains flowing into the Salton Sea, California. Total selenium, selenium species (dissolved selenite, selenate, organoselenium), and total suspended solids were determined in water samples. Total selenium also was determined in water column particulates and in sediment, detritus, and biota that included algae, plankton, midge larvae (family, Chironomidae), and two fish species (western mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis, and sailfin molly, Poecilia latipinna). In addition, sediments were analyzed for percent total organic carbon and particle size. Mean total selenium concentrations in water for both sampling periods ranged from 1.00 to 33.6 micrograms per liter, predominately as selenate, which is typical of waters where selenium is leached out of selenium-containing marine shales and associated soils under alkaline and oxidizing conditions. Total selenium concentrations (micrograms per gram dry weight) ranged as follows: algae, 1.52 to 8.26; plankton, 0.79 to 3.66; midges, 2.68 to 50.6; fish, 3.09 to 30.4; detritus, 1.78 to 58.0; and sediment, 0.42 to 10.0.
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USGS Numbered Series
Total Selenium and Selenium Species in Irrigation Drain Inflows to the Salton Sea, California, October 2008 and January 2009