The Fate of Particles and Particle-Reactive Trace Metals in Coastal Waters: Radioisotope Studies in Microcosms

  • Peter H. Santschi
  • Dennis M. Adler
  • Michael Amdurer
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 9)


Many trace metals rapidly adsorb to suspended particles when introduced to the water column of coastal marine environments. The transport of these particles and “particle-reactive” trace metals from the water column to the sediments was studied using radiotracer techniques in large microcosm tanks simulating Narragansett Bay.

Transfer rates of radioactive trace metals and plastic particles (“tracer microshperes”) to the sediments were much greater in mid-summer than in mid-winter. This coincided with an order-of-magnitude higher particle flux through the water column due to higher sediment resuspension rates in the summer. Laboratory experiments using settling cylinders showed that interaction between the water column and bottom sediments greatly accelerates the deposition velocities of particles. Experiments using a zooplankton cage and sediment traps in the microcosm tanks indicated further that in shallow marine environments zooplankton filter feeding is a much less important transfer process than filter-feeding by benthic organisms which may greatly increase the removal rates of particles and particle-reactive trace metals from the water column during the summer.


Water Column Trace Metal Removal Rate Fecal Pellet Sediment Trap 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter H. Santschi
    • 1
  • Dennis M. Adler
    • 1
  • Michael Amdurer
    • 1
  1. 1.Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia UniversityPalisadesUSA

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