Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Joe Hunt, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Class Year: 

Project Title: 

Contamination History of Maryland's Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Using Dated Cores


Sediment cores were taken from the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay and the Saint Martin River and analyzed for trace metal contamination. The goal of this study was to determine the recent history of trace metal contamination in both sites. A flame atomic absorption spectrometer was used to analyze for the metals copper, nickel, iron, lead, and manganese. Due to an inability to date the cores with 210Pb, ages were estimated assuming the lead concentration peak occurred in 1975. Past research has shown a decrease in trace metal contamination since the mid 1970s. Other than copper in all the cores and the northern Chesapeake Bay, this study upholds this trend.