Marine Science Faculty Publications

Iron-binding Ligands and Humic Substances in the San Francisco Bay Estuary and Estuarine-influenced Shelf Regions of Coastal California

Document Type


Publication Date



Estuaries, Organic matter, Flocculation, Iron, Iron-binding ligands, Humic substances, Aliphatic polycarboxylic compounds, Proton nuclear magnetic resonance, Cathodic stripping voltammetry, Multiple analytical window, USA, California, San Francisco Bay

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Dissolved iron (dFe) and organic dFe-binding ligands were determined in San Francisco Bay, California by competitive ligand exchange adsorptive cathodic stripping voltammetry (CLE-ACSV) along a salinity gradient from the freshwater endmember of the Sacramento River (salinity < 2) to the mouth of the estuary (salinity > 26). A range of dFe-binding ligand classes was simultaneously determined using multiple analytical window analysis, involving titrations with multiple concentrations of the added ligand, salicylaldoxime. The highest dFe and ligand concentrations were determined in the low salinity end of the estuary, with dFe equal to 131.5 nmol L− 1 and strong ligand (log KFeL,Fe′cond" role="presentation"> ≥ 12.0) concentrations equal to 139.5 nmol L− 1. The weakest ligands (log KFeL,Fe′cond" role="presentation"> < 10.0) were always in excess of dFe in low salinity waters, but were rapidly flocculated within the estuary and were not detected at salinities greater than 7. The strongest ligands (log KFeL,Fe′cond" role="presentation"> > 11.0) were tightly coupled to dFe throughout the estuary, with average excess ligand concentrations ([L]–[dFe]) equal to 0.5 nmol L− 1. Humic-like substances analyzed via both CLE-ACSV and proton nuclear magnetic resonance in several samples were found to be a significant portion of the dFe-binding ligand pool in San Francisco Bay, with concentrations ranging from 559.5 μg L− 1 to 67.5 μg L− 1 in the lowest and highest salinity samples, respectively. DFe-binding ligands and humic-like substances were also found in benthic boundary layer samples taken from the shelf near the mouths of San Francisco Bay and Eel River, suggesting estuaries are an important source of dFe-binding ligands to California coastal shelf waters.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Marine Chemistry, v. 173, p. 183-194