MERI – Spatial Distribution of Contaminants in Lower Raritan Sediments

News | Raritan River Initiatives | Water Quality

This research study by the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI) at Rutgers – Newark, aimed to fill in data gaps in river and marsh sediment contamination in the Lower Raritan River. The main tasks of this study were: (1) Measure trace metal and organic contaminant levels in surficial sediments along 20 km of the Lower Raritan River; (2) Visualize the spatial distribution of trace metal and organic pollutants in surficial sediments using spatial interpolation techniques; (3) Extract cores from three marsh sites (a) proximal, (b) central and (c) distal to traditional industrial and agricultural sites; and (4) Reconstruct pre-industrial environmental reference conditions.

To assess the river’s environmental past and present we used a multidisciplinary approach where biology, chemistry, statistics, and computer modelling were combined to gain a greater understanding into the spatial and temporal distribution of priority pollutants and contaminants in the Lower Raritan River. Sediment samples from 40 unique sampling locations were analyzed for metal and organic pollutants. Core samples were retrieved and analyzed at three marsh locations to assess the historical environmental context of the region.

MERI Raritan Data Package

Links to Lightning Talks and Posters at annual Sustainable Raritan River Conference and Awards Ceremony

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This research was supported by the Mushett Family Foundation

MERI is an environmental research group that has recently joined Rutgers University – Newark in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Our mission is to generate the knowledge and predictive understanding necessary to sustain and conserve the Hackensack Meadowlands Estuary and through scientific endeavor foster the next generation of earth and environmental scientists. Through our mission MERI aims to train environmental scientists by addressing the environmental problems of the Hackensack Estuary, apply and develop new technologies to address the legacy of environmental problems in the Meadowlands, and promote regional gathering and sharing of information.
MERI utilizes a network of long term environmental monitoring equipment, certified lab analytical equipment, GIS, and drone technology to address the various environmental issues in the Hackensack Meadowlands Estuary. MERI’s resources and location allow for environmental research and internship opportunities from high school through college levels.