Arthur F. Goeller's Thesis

Title: Heavy Metals and Radionuclides in Sediments of The Hackensack River, New Jersey

Date: October 1989


The vertical and areal distribution of Cr, Zn, Pb, Cd, Cu, Ni were determined for twelve sediment cores taken in creeks and along the main channel of the Hackensack River. Each sediment core was assayed for Be7 and Cs137 in order to establish time lines relative to depth within the core. Analysis of the results have indicated that the upstream portion of the river appears to carry a higher metal load than that of the downstream portion. A point source of metals was identified in Berrys Creek Canal, but it does not appear to contribute significantly to the main channel of the river. Several dated sediment cores record a large chromium enrichment impacting the entire river which occurred in the early 1960's. Chromium and zinc data (graphically plotted) indicate that present metal load conditions are less than the elevated levels occuring in the 1960's. Vertical distribution trends (Pb, Cu, Zn, Cr) display a strong similarity and consistency within the cores suggesting a mutual relationship between the sources. Cadmium and nickel concentrations are low and remain fairly stable along the length of most cores. Newark Bay appears to be a contributing source to the metal load of the Hackensack River. Long (Cs137) and short term (Be7) sedimentation rates were estimated to be 1.45 cm/yr (average of twelve cores) and 2.3 cm/yr (average of twelve cores), respectively. It is suggested that the long term sedimentation rate is lower because of compaction. This study did not determine early diagenetic processes which act on the sediment of the Hackensack River or their relationship to heavy metals or radionuclides adsorbed to the sediment, the heavy metal adsorptive affinities of specific clay types or the mineralogy of clays constituting the sediment of the Hackensack River.



Map of Sudy Area and sample locations

Results Data Table