Abstract The concentration and distribution of particulate trace metals in waters of the South Atlantic Bight are controlled by cross-shelf advection of continentally derived inorganic detritus from nearshore sources and in situ biogenic particle production. Particulate trace metal flux across the outer continental shelf is mostly in organic particles. The flux of trace metals in terrigenous particles across the South Atlantic Bight is approximately as efficient as particle transport to the North Atlantic from the St. Lawrence discharge system. With the exception of Fe, the cross-shelf transport of trace metal in terrestrially derived particles is considerably less than the soluble transport of trace metals delivered to the South Atlantic Bight by rivers. The relative importance of particulate fluxes follows the order Fe>Mn>Pb>Co>Zn>Ni>Cd>Cu.