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INVESTIGATION OF ANTHROPOGENIC SEDIMENTS IN THE NEW YORK BIGHT

George Pararas-Carayannis

Reprinted from DISSERTATION ABSTRACTS INTERNATIONAL
Volume XXXVI, Number 4, 1975

(A comprehensive interdisciplinary analysis of baseline conditions and changes since 1888 - report 288 pages)

ABSTRACT: Since 1888, the inner Ne York Bight near the head of the Hudson Channel, has been the site for ocean disposal of varous wates, including dredge spoils, excavation materials, and sewage sludges. A detailed physical-chemical study of surface and core sediments in the general areas of the New York Bight dumping grounds was undertaken for the purpose of determining the distribution and fate of the waste solids following disposal. The study included interpretation of bathymetric and structural differences based on isopachs, cross sections, and seismic profiles, analysis of sediment size distribution, a microscopic examination of sediment samples, and the collection and interpretation of such chemical data as total carbon and selective metals.

As a result of this investigation it was established that the annual discharge of waste solids (excluding refuse and floatable debris) in the Bight averages 3.5 million cubic yards per year over the last 15 years. The continuous disposal of waste materials has created a topographic inversion in this area of the continental shelf, has altered the natural geology, and has created a serious environmental problem.

Maximum accumulation of waste sediments between 1936 and 1973 has a thickness of 36 feet at the "mud" dumping site and a thickness of 12 feet at the head of the Hudson Channel. At the "sewer sludge" dump site maximum accumulation of waste solids is less than five feet in thickness. Sedimentation of waste solids in the vicinity of the "mud" dump site has resulted in a maximum shoaling rate of 0.97 feet per year. Continued dumping in this area may create a navigational hazard.

Physical and chemical data indicate that waste sediments occupy an area of about 40 square nautical miles (100 Km2). The degree of mixing of waste and natural sediments varies throughout this area. Size analysis and microscopic examination indicate the natural sediments adjacent to or underlying the waste sediments consist mostly of moderately well-sorted medium-grained sand with a remarkable absence of particles finer than 125 microns in size, in contrast with waste sediments which contain a higher percentage of fines and are rich in organic carbon and heavy metals.

Isopach maps, seafloor profiles, seismic records and cores indicate that most of the waste solids have remained in the general area of the dumping grounds. Some slumping of the waste materials has occurred filling a portion of the head of the Hudson Channel. Waste sediment budget estimates indicate that approximately 3.47 x 10 to the 8 cubic yards of waste solids have been dumped in that region of the New York Bight from 1888 to 1973. Interpretation of isopachs and cross sections indicate that approximately 3.3 x 108 cubic yards of waste sediments remain in the general area of the dumping grounds. With three percent estimated consolidation of the waste sediments dumped, the total volume of waste solids unaccounted for, is estimated at 7.3 x 106 cubic yards.

The bulk of waste solids is missing from the area of the "sewer sludge" dump site, suggesting extensive transport or biodegradation of the organic components of the sewage solids. Progressively finer sediments found to the north of the "sewer sludge" dump site suggest a northward component of sediment transport in that area. A portion of the sewage sludge solids has moved to the north of the present "sewer sludge" dumping site. The organic fraction and the heavy metals are associated with the finer sediments. Copper and total carbon appear to be useful tracers of waste solids.


Descriptors / Key Words: OCEAN AND SEA GOVERNANCE, ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY, (*OCEANS, *WASTES (SANITARY ENGINEERING)), (*WATER POLLUTION, OCEANS), PHYSICAL OCEANOGRAPHY, MARINE BIOLOGY, MARINE GEOLOGY, CHEMICAL ANALYSIS, SEWAGE, BATHYMETRY, OCEAN BOTTOM AND STRUCTURALTOPOGRAPHY CHANGES, ISOPACHS, SEDIMENT SIZE DISTRIBUTION, TOTAL ORGANIC CARBON, ORGANIC MATERIALS, FISHES AND BENTHIC ORGANISMS, HEAVY METALS (Mercury, Cadmium, Arsenic, Lead, Copper, Zinc, Chromium and Nickel in Sediments), BACTERIA (Coliforms in Sediments), PHOSPHATES, NITRATES, OCEAN CURRENTS, NEW YORK


Subject Categories : PHYSICAL AND DYNAMIC OCEANOGRAPHY, MARINE GEOLOGY, OCEAN GOVERNANCE AND SUSTAINABILITY, WATER POLLUTION AND CONTROL, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

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