National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1982

Sources, composition, and transport of suspended particulate matter in lower Cook Inlet and northwestern Shelikof Strait, Alaska

Feely, R.A., and G.J. Massoth

NOAA Tech. Report ERL 415-PMEL 34, NTIS: PB82-193263, 28 pp (1982)

The chemical composition and seasonal distribution of suspended particulate matter collected during 1977 and 1978 in lower Cook Inlet and northwestern Shelikof Strait are compared with published data on current patterns. With respect to suspended-matter dispersal patterns, Cook Inlet shows characteristics of both an estuary and an embayment. Estuarine characteristics are exemplified by the association of the inorganic terrestrial material from upper Cook Inlet with the outward-flowing estuarine water. Plots of total suspended-matter concentrations versus salinity for surface and near-bottom waters are roughly linear for the central region of lower Cook Inlet, indicating that dilution of the estuarine water by relatively nonturbid oceanic water is the major factor controlling suspended-matter concentrations in the inlet. Embayment characteristics are indicated by the cross-channel suspended-matter gradients and by the elemental ratios of the particulate matter, which show evidence for movement of Copper River-derived aluminosilicate material across the mouth of the inlet and into Shelikof Strait. These features, which are unique to lower Cook Inlet, are a direct result of the unusual nature of the current patterns existing within the inlet.

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