Date of Award

Summer 1977

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean & Earth Sciences



Committee Director

Donald D. Adams

Committee Member

Dennis A. Darby

Committee Member

Chester Grosch

Committee Member

John C. Ludwick

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.O35K38


Thirty six sediment cores were collected during August, 1976 and January, 1977 in order to examine the relationships between dissolved organic carbon and total dissolved mercury in the interstitial water of two marshes located near Windmill Point, James River, 16 km downstream from Hopewell, Virginia. The Windmill Point marsh development site is a dredged material disposal island in the James River. The reference marsh which does not contain dredged material, is located 2.3 km upstream at Ducking Stool Point.

The concentrations of dissolved organic carbon and total dissolved mercury showed no significant difference between the two marshes. Trends in the concentration of dissolved mercury and dissolved organic carbon with depth were not apparent. Mercury concentrations in the winter were on the average 85 percent lower than those in the summer season, while dissolved organic carbon was reduced by 45 percent in the winter.

Multiple linear regression analysis showed no correlation between total dissolved mercury and dissolved organic carbon. The correlation improved when the number of variables used in the multiple linear regression was increased, suggesting that other parameters need to be examined such as sulfides, chlorides, and major cations. The levels of pH and redox potential were not significantly different throughout the study area and the two seasons. Considering only these four parameters, a marshland habitat can be developed from dredged material. Even though biological uptake was not tested during this research, mercury from the interstitial water and sediments could become hazardous to the biota when the material is distributed during dredging operations.


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