An inventory on the spatial and temporal distribution of particulate matter concentration, its composition, and size distribution in the Schelde estuary was taken using samples collected from its transect, during the months of August, October, November, December (1995) and January (1996). The samples were analyzed using image analysis for particulate matter concentration and size distribution. Various chemical parameters (dry weight, total carbon, inorganic carbon, particulate organic carbon and chlorophyll concentrations) were also analyzed. Size fractionation experiments were carried out with screens of different mesh sizes (i.e., 10, 20, 55 and 100 µm). Two screening methods for particulate matter fractionation were tested. PCA analysis for the spatial and temporal distribution of particulate matter in the Schelde samples revealed mainly a seasonal, rather than a spatial, pattern in the particulate matter distribution, for the months covered. The PCA analysis for particle size distribution (concentration in ppm) did not show any specific pattern. When concentration of particles was considered on numerical basis, the results show that the particulate matter in the samples are mainly made up of small particles below 1.95 µm SED. The percentage of total carbon to dry weight in the particulate matter is only ca. 5-7% , and ca. 80% of this is particulate organic carbon. The POC fraction of the total carbon is mostly composed of detritus.
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