Dissolved copper and copper-organic complexes in the Narragansett Bay estuary

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The geochemistry of dissolved copper-organic complexes was investigated in the estuarine waters of Narragansett Bay. A transect survey was conducted in August 1980, while one mid-bay station was monitored from March through August of that year. The transect data indicated that most of the copper-organic complexes enter the bay via sewage effluent which is discharged into the Providence River at the head of the bay. Organic copper concentrations in the estuary ranged from 0.12 to 2.30 μg kg-1 and comprised from 14 to 70% of the total dissolved copper. The concentration of copper-organic complexes was not directly related to the amount of dissolved organic matter; and recently generated organic material from phytoplankton production within the bay had a negligible influence on the fraction of dissolved copper which was organically bound. The major source of total copper to the bay is anthropogenic inputs from sewage effluents. Particulate and dissolved copper concentrations ranged from 0.06 to 2.42 and 0.23 to 16.4 μg kg-1, respectively, giving average values of about 40% particulate and 60% dissolved copper. Particulate copper concentrations decreased rapidly from the upper to the lower bay as a result of both removal and dilution. About 75% of the dissolved copper entering the bay is rapidly removed in the Providence River and upper bay, and the remaining portion (which is largely organic copper) follows conservative mixing in the mid to lower bay. The data suggest that copper binding by dissolved organic matter may be an important control on the riverine flux of dissolved copper through estuaries into coastal and oceanic waters. © 1984.

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Marine Chemistry