The distribution and seasonal variation of dissolved trace metals in Florida Bay and adjacent waters

Valentina G. Caccia, Frank J. Millero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Florida Bay is a shallow carbonate estuary in South Florida. It receives fresh waters from the Everglades that contribute a number of metals to the Bay. The Bay is the largest estuary in Florida with nearly pristine conditions. In this paper we report the first extensive study of trace metals in the Bay. The seasonal distributions of trace metals (Sc, V, Cr, Co, Cu, Fe, Pb, Mn, Ni and Al) were determined on surface waters in Florida Bay and adjacent waters. The measurements in the Bay were made from May 2000 to May 2001, and the adjacent waters were sampled in September 2000 and May 2002. Most of the dissolved trace metals exhibited their maximum concentrations in summer, except Al and Pb that did not show any seasonal variability. The seasonal variations of the metals are related to the influx of fresh water from runoff and rainfall. The lowest concentrations are found during the dry season in the winter and the highest during the wet season in the summer. Several metals (V, Mn, Al, Sc, Fe, Co, Ni and Cr) exhibited their highest concentrations in the western zone of the Bay. The Western Bay waters are influenced by Gulf of Mexico waters, which carry metals coming from Barron, Broad and Shark rivers. These rivers are affected by agricultural runoff from North Florida. The Shark River always exhibited high concentrations of V, Mn, Al, Sc, Co and Cr. Other possible influences in the western and north-central zone of the Bay are from Flamingo Center, the creeks of Taylor Slough and the mangrove fringe of the Everglades. High concentrations of Al, Co, Ni, Cr, Cu, Fe, and Pb were detected in the eastern zone. The high values found in the northeast are influenced by Taylor Slough runoff and in the southeast by Key Largo, Tavernier Marina and the drainage from the main highway (US1) on Tavernier Key. The minimum concentrations for most of the metals were found in areas near the Key channels that exchange waters between Florida Bay and the Atlantic Ocean (Gulf Stream). The adjacent waters in the Atlantic side including the Gulf Stream waters showed very low concentrations for all the metals studied except for V. In the Bay correlations of V were found: (1) V with salinity and Al and (2) Sc with Si. Most of the other metals did not show any strong correlations with nutrients or salinity. Florida Bay is thus not a typical estuary due to the unique structure of its mud banks and multiple inputs of metals from the mangrove fringe in the north.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-144
Number of pages34
JournalAquatic Geochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003


  • Estuary
  • Florida Bay
  • ICP-MS
  • Seasonal variations
  • Trace metals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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