Transport and distribution of trace elements and other selected inorganic constituents by suspended particulates in the Salton Sea Basin, California, 2001

Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 201)


In order to examine the transport of contaminants associated with river-derived suspended particles in the Salton Sea, California, large volume water samples were collected in transects established along the three major rivers emptying into the Salton Sea in fall 2001. Rivers in this area carry significant aqueous and particulate contaminant loads derived from irrigation water associated with the extensive agricultural activity, as well as wastewater from small and large municipalities. A variety of inorganic constituents, including trace metals, nutrients, and organic carbon were analyzed on suspended material isolated from water samples collected at upriver, near-shore, and off-shore sites established on the Alamo, New, and Whitewater rivers. Concentration patterns showed expected trends, with river-borne metals becoming diluted by organic-rich algal particles of lacustrine origin in off-shore stations. More soluble metals, such as cadmium, copper, and zinc showed a more even distribution between sites in the rivers and off-shore in the lake basin. General distributional trends of trace elements between particulate and aqueous forms were discerned by combining metal concentration data for particulates from this study with historical aqueous metals data. Highly insoluble trace metals, such as iron and aluminum, occurred almost entirely in the particulate phase, while major cations and approximately 95% of selenium were transported in the soluble phase. Evidence for greater reducing conditions in the New compared to the Alamo River was provided by the greater proportion of reduced (soluble) manganese in the New River. Evidence of bioconcentration of selenium and arsenic within the lake by algae was provided by calculating “enrichment” concentration ratios from metal concentrations on the algal-derived particulate samples and the off-shore sites.


Trace metals Transport Suspended sediments Salton Sea 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MaineOronoUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveySolana BeachUSA

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