Samples of suspended particles have been collected from the turbidity maximum region of the Tamar Estuary, S.W. England. Specific surface areas and porosities of the particles were determined by a BET nitrogen adsorption technique. The role of surface coatings of organic matter and Fe and Mn oxides was examined. The data show that the specific surface area was highest at the turbidity maximum and was associated with high Fe/Mn ratios. The characterised particles were then used in time-dependent adsorption-desorption experiments, with waters from the metal-rich Carnon River, S.W. England. The rates and extents of the sorption processes were interpreted in terms of a two-stage reaction which was related to the microstructures of the particles. Kinetic analyses of the desorption profiles gave rate constants which are of significance in the prediction of the fate of toxic metal wastes discharged into estuaries.

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