Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Industrial and Agricultural Contaminants in the Raritan River

Scientific Investigators

PI: Dr. Francisco Artigas

Co-PI: Dr. Jennifer Clear

Advisor: Dr. Peddrick Weis


The proposed study has two components. Component I – river sediment quality – will measure metal and organic contaminants associated with surficial sediment in the Lower Raritan River. The study will complement historical baselines of sediment contamination measured between 1999 and 2007 (STORET 2016)  and provide new and updated information from areas where there are no official records of sediment samples in State or Federal environmental datasets. The main tasks of this component include: 1, Measure trace metal and organic contaminant levels in surficial sediments along 20 km of the lower Raritan River using a transversal transect sampling design. 2, Measure water quality parameters at two depths (surface and channel bottom) utilizing the same surficial sediment sampling design. 3, Visualize the spatial distribution of trace metal and organic pollutants in surficial sediments using spatial interpolation techniques. In Component II – salt marsh sediment assessment – sediment cores from salt marsh environment will assess the environmental impacts of pollutants across space and time. The main tasks of this component include: 1, Extract cores from three marsh sites (1) proximal, (2) central and (3) distal to traditional industrial and agricultural sites, while capturing the elevation gradient within the marsh surface by sampling (a) high- (b) mid- and (c) low-marsh environments at each site. 2, Reconstruct pre-industrial environmental reference conditions and natural variability prior to significant anthropogenic disturbance and identify the distribution and longevity of industrial and agricultural pollution retained within the salt-marsh environments by radiocarbon dating and geochemical analysis of the core sample; 3, observe any ecological shifts that occurred due to the disposal and deposition of pollutants in the Raritan River by assessing diatom and pollen abundance in the core sample.

Funding Source

The Mushett Family Foundation