A baseline for microplastic particle occurrence and distribution in Great Bay Estuary

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Matthew L. H. Cheng, Thomas C Lippmann, Jennifer Dijkstra, Gabriela Bradt, Salme Cook, Jang-Geun CHoi, Bonnie L Brown 


We extracted and analyzed microplastics (MP) in archived sediment cores from Great Bay Estuary (GBE) in the Gulf of Maine region of North America. Results indicated that MP are distributed in GBE sediments, 0-30 cm, at an average occurrence of 116 ± 21 particles g-1 and that morphology varies by site and depth. Analysis by sediment depth and age class indicated that MP accumulation increased over several decades but recently (5-10 years) has likely begun to decrease. Hydrodynamic and particle transport modeling indicated that bed characteristics are a more controlling factor in MP distribution than typical MP properties and that the highest accumulation likely occurs in regions with weaker hydrodynamic flows and lower bed shear stress, e.g., eelgrass meadows and along fringes of the Bay. These results provide a baseline and predictive understanding of the occurrence, morphology, and sedimentation of MP in the estuary.




Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


microplastics, sedimentation, Great Bay Estuary


Published: 2021-02-18 10:47

Last Updated: 2021-06-09 10:36

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
we are working through how to share the data - they consist of programs, distributions, and excel files of particle properties and are housed in several different locations at present

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