Project Title: Effects of water table level and storm strength on the redistribution of trace metals in the Meadowlands of New Jersey
Abstract: The Meadowlands of New Jersey encompassing 5000 acres of open space and wetlands. The relatively low cost of lands along with a privileged location near an urban center attracted industry to this area from the mid 1800’s. The absence of regulations (pre 1970’s) resulted in vast amounts of industrial waste emitted into the air and dumped to nearby estuaries and marshlands. Coastal marsh environments provide a unique physical chemical environment with the capacity to immobilize and retain contaminants. The increases in sea level and the frequency of storm events due to climate change is having a profound effect on the water table of tidally influenced areas, and will consequently affect the fate and transport, and, ultimately, the redistribution of legacy trace metal contaminants buried and immobilized in the sediments. This project will establish four shallow groundwater monitoring wells at a well-studied contaminated site in the Meadowlands to explore the relationship between water table level and storm events with trace metal movement and redistribution. In this study, sea-level rise conditions will be represented by tidal cycles with high water levels (higher than the mean high water, MHW) which are then compared to normal tidal cycle conditions. Similar samples will be collected before and after significant storm events. This study will also help establish permanent shallow groundwater monitoring wells for long-term observation of legacy contaminant redistribution and help understand the principal mechanisms involved in trace metal remobilization.