Short Sediment Cores as Archives of Urban Pollution

Monday, 15 December 2014: 9:45 AM
Jennifer C Latimer, David Alexander McLennan, Jeffery Stone, Erica D Memmer, Jared A Foster, Kevin J Hardin, Zachary Nickerson, Cory A Portwood and Tina M Williams, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN, United States
Urban areas are host to numerous sources of environmental pollution, including industry, traffic, and past land uses. To document this pollution within Vigo County, Indiana, we collected several short cores from ponds and wetlands throughout the county, including cores from the old industrial park in Terre Haute, nature parks, a lake impacted by acid mine drainage, and a newly restored wetland to investigate heavy metal burial in these aquatic ecosystems. One core was collected from a holding pond that was constructed in the 1950’s on the former International Paper (IP) site where corrugated packing products were produced for nearly a century. One of the nature parks (Dobbs Nature Park) was established in 1976, while the other sits on a former Brownfield site and was only recently opened to the public (Maple Avenue Nature Park). Scott Lake is adjacent to an abandoned coal mine, and continues to receive acidic drainage. Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area is flooded seasonally by the Wabash River. Prior land uses for the Wabashiki include agriculture and illegal dumping. All of these sites, except IP are designated fishing areas. Based on water chemistry and diatom assemblages, these ponds have acceptable water quality; however, some are becoming increasingly more eutrophic. Preliminary results from the IP and Maple Avenue Nature Park sediment cores indicate elevated heavy metal concentrations above background levels and at concentrations high enough to impact benthic organisms based on NOAA Sediment Quality Guidelines. Diatoms from the IP core suggest a transition from low productivity at the base to nutrient-rich conditions in more recent sediments, and several diatom specimens have observable deformities (typically an indicator of heavy metals). The base of the IP core also has metal concentrations that are 5 times greater than the top of the core. In many cases, sediments from the Maple Avenue Nature Park pond have metal concentrations higher than the surrounding soils. The sediments in these ponds appear to be acting as sinks for heavy metals. Unfortunately, there are no regulatory guidelines for sediments even though elevated metal concentrations can impact environmental quality and ultimately human health via the food chain. Ongoing work includes continued analysis of sediment samples for heavy metals.