Standard Article

89 On the Worldwide Riverine Transport of Sediment – Associated Contaminants to the Ocean

Part 7. Erosion and Sedimentation

  1. Peter W Swarzenski1,
  2. Pamela L Campbell2

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa090

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Swarzenski, P. W. and Campbell, P. L. 2006. On the Worldwide Riverine Transport of Sediment – Associated Contaminants to the Ocean. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 7:89.

Author Information

  1. 1

    United States Geological Survey, St Petersburg, FL, US

  2. 2

    ETI, St Petersburg, FL, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


The continuous and persistent weathering of the continents and the ensuing transport of both eroded and anthropogenic products by rivers account for almost all the dissolved solutes, particulates, and sediment-associated contaminants delivered to the ocean. Transported within this riverine load are essential nutrients (e.g. P, N, C), (oxy)hydroxides of Fe/Mn that act as highly efficient riverine scavengers, an ever-changing suite of man-made organic and inorganic constituents, as well as a wide variety of natural solutes (e.g. Si, Ca, Mg, Sr). The environmental behavior of these river-borne constituents is controlled by dynamic phase partitioning between operationally defined dissolved, colloidal, and particulate pools control. As most trace elements are bound onto river particulates, their fate is defined foremost by the nonconservative nature of such solids as they move along the particle-size continuum or are exchanged and remobilized in river bed and floodplain sediments. This paper describes the global riverine transport of sediment-associated contaminants to the ocean.


  • sediment-associated contaminants;
  • river discharge;
  • suspended sediment concentration;
  • phase partitioning;
  • storage;
  • remobilization;
  • scavenging;
  • redox cycling