Martin Marietta Corp. executives yesterday blamed the recession for a 60 percent plunge in first-quarter earnings and warned that its aluminum business may not make any money this year.

In other earnings reports, Atlantic Research Corp. posted a 35 percent gain for the first three months of 1982, Bank of Virginia said its quarterly profits were up 10 percent, and Media General earnings hit a new high.

Martin Marietta's earnings dropped to $15.8 million (44 cents a share) from $39.7 million ($1.06) despite a $25 million jump in sales to $748.5 million from $717.5 million.

The Bethesda company said its aerospace operations had their best quarter ever, but all other lines of business suffered from "the continuing effect of the recession"

Hardest hit were Martin Marietta's cement and aluminum operations. "It is an open question at this time whether we will have the benefit of any alulminum contribution to our corporate earnings in 1982," warned Chairman J. Donald Rauth. "Until general economic recovery occurs," Rauth added, "There will be no return to the record earnings pattern the corporation demonstrated in recent years."

Atlantic Research, however, posted a 35 percent increase in profits and a 19 percent gain in sales for the first quarter and said its backlog of business has grown to a record $86 million.

Earnings totaled just over $1 million (55 cents) on sales of $25.8 million, up from $750,000 (41 cents) on sales of $21.6 million for the Alexandria-based rocket, research and electronics company.

Booking $55 million in new business during the quarter, Atlantic Research boosted its backlog of contracts from $29 million to $86 million.

Bank of Virginia's net climbed to just over $3 million (51 cents) from $2.8 million (48 cents) for the quarter ended March 31. Income before securities transactions totaled $4.5 million, a 63 percent gain over the $2.7 million of last year.

Richmond-based Media General reported yesterday that revenues and earnings in the first quarter set a record. Profits were $7.1 million ($1.01) compared with $6.3 million (88 cents) last year.

First-quarter revenues grew 13.1 percent, to $96.9 million from $85.7 million in the same period, ending March 31, last year.