OFR 99-226

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Fernandez, Jr., Mario, Marot, Marci, and Holmes, Charles, 1999, Reconnaissance of chemical and physical characteristics of selected bottom sediments of the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary, tributaries, and contiguous bays, Lee County, Florida, July 20-30, 1998: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 99-226, 32 p., 88-page appendix, 7 plates.


This report summarizes a reconnaissance study, conducted July 20-30, 1998, of chemical and physical characteristics of recently deposited bottom sediments in the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary. Recently deposited sediments were identified using an isotopic chronometer, Beryllium-7 (7Be), a short-lived radioisotope. Fifty-nine sites were sampled in an area that encompasses the Caloosahatchee River (River) about three miles upstream from the Franklin Lock (S-79), the entire tidally affected length of the river (estuary), and the contiguous water bodies of Matlacha Pass, San Carlos Bay, Estero Bay, Tarpon Bay, and Pine Island Sound in Lee County, Florida.

Bottom sediments were sampled for 7Be at 59 sites. From the results of the 7Be analysis, 30 sites were selected for physical and chemical analysis. Sediments were analyzed for particle size, total organic carbon (TOC), trace elements, and toxic organic compounds, using semiquantitative methods for trace elements and organic compounds. The semiquantitative scans of trace elements indicated that cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc concentrations, when normalized to aluminum, were above the natural background range at 24 of 30 sites. Particle size and TOC were used to characterize sediment deposition patterns and organic content. Pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (CaPAHs) were determined at 30 sites using immunoassay analysis. The semiquantitative immunoassay analyses of toxic organic compounds indicated that all of the samples contained DDT, cyclodienes as chlordane (pesticides), and CaPAHs. PCBs were not detected.

Based on analyses of the 30 sites, sediments at 10 of these sites were analyzed for selected trace elements and toxic organic compounds, including pesticides, PCBs, and PAHs, using quantitative laboratory procedures. No arsenic or cadmium was detected. Zinc was detected at two sites with concentrations greater than the lower limit of the range of sediment contaminant concentrations that are usually or always associated with adverse effects (Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Sediment Quality Assessment Guidelines). Organochlorine pesticides were detected at four sites at concentrations below the reporting limits; there were no organophosphorus pesticides or PCBs detected. PAHs were detected at eight sites; however, only four sites had concentrations above the reporting limit.

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