Abstract

Surface sediments in the Spokane River Basin are enriched in Pb, Zn, As, Cd, Sb, and Hg relative to local background levels. Maximum enrichment occurs in the Upper Spokane River in close proximity to Lake Coeur d'Alene. On average, enrichment decreases downstream. Subsurface sediments also are enriched in Pb, Zn, As, Cd, Sb, and Hg relative to background levels. Enrichment began between 1900 and 1920 in the middle of the basin; this is contemporaneous with similar findings in Lake Coeur d'Alene (the upstream source of the Spokane River), as well as the completion of Long Lake Dam (1913). In the most downstream part of the basin, enrichment began between 1930 and 1940. This temporal shift may reflect the latter's greater distance from the Coeur d'Alene River Basin, the presumptive source of the enriched trace elements, but is more likely the result of the completion of Grand Coulee Dam (1934–1941) which backed up the Spokane River, and elevated water levels by about 30 m in the most downstream part of the basin.

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