Geochemistry of organic contaminants in Narragansett Bay sediments

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Organic contaminants from several different chemical classes were analyzed in surface sediments along a transect from the head to the mouth of Narragansett Bay. The chemical classes included total hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, substituted benzotriazoles and phthalic acid esters. Sediment concentrations of all compounds were highest in the Providence River and decreased with distance downbay. The observed decreases were approximately exponential for all compounds; however, the distances at which the concentrations decreased to one-half of their initial concentrations (half-distances) were different. The depth distributions of these compounds in sediment cores from three locations were also investigated. A sediment core collected near the head of the bay (Conimicut Point) showed a well defined historical record of contaminant input to the bay. At a mid-bay location (North Jamestown), however, the record was smeared because of extensive bioturbation. A sediment core collected near the mouth of the bay (Rhode Island Sound) showed a subsurface increase for all of the measured compounds. The results of detailed analyses suggest that this horizon may have been influenced by dredge spoil material originally from the head of the bay. © 1985.

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Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science