Abstract

The distribution of total suspended matter in the estuary of the St. Lawrence River was studied by quantitative filtration through membrane filters. Tidal fluctuations in the vertical gradients of suspensoids were followed at fixed stations along the estuary. The concentrations varied from nearly 40 mg/1 below near Ile d'Orléans, to values less than 1 mg/1 at the downstream end of the upper estuary near the Saguenay River entrance. The tidal mean concentrations for the fixed stations ranged from 20 mg/1 to 2 mg/1. A turbidity maximum, which develops because of entrapments of particles by the tidal circulation, extends for 100 km below Quebec City. In this zone large vertical gradients changing in intensity with the tide by resuspension of settled material exist above the bottom. The total suspended matter is 60% to more than 90% inorganic by weight, and has a mean particle size between 5 and 7 μ. The annual rate of transport of suspended material out of the upper estuary at a section near the Saguenay River is estimated at less than 1 × 106 metric tons.Chemical and mineralogical analyses were performed on 23 suspensoid samples collected by centrifuging large volumes of water. The clay mineral composition of the less than 2 μ fraction is on the average 1.5% montmorillonite, 8% kaolinite, 31% chlorite, and 60% illite. However, large time and space variations are found both in the chemistry and mineralogy of the suspended matter.

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