State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2011MA298B
Title: Assessing Human Impacts on Sediment and Contaminant Trapping within Oxbow Lake, Northampton, Massachusetts
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 4/01/2011
End Date: 3/31/2012
Congressional District: 1
Focus Categories: Floods, Sediments, Toxic Substances
Keywords: Mercury, Floodplain, Sediment, Oxbow Lake, Connecticut River
Principal Investigator: Woodruff, Jonathan D
Federal Funds: $ 4,999
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 12,678
Abstract: Sediments within the Connecticut River have inherited a legacy of heavy metal contamination since industrialization began within the watershed in the mid-1800s. Lakes and ponds located along the floodplain of the river likely represent a major sink for introduced contaminants. Here we propose to obtain sediment and associated heavy metal inventories from Oxbow Lake, Northampton, MA, and evaluate changes in the rate of deposition since the formation of the floodplain lake in 1840 AD. We hypothesis that the lake has served as a hotspots for heavy metal contamination since the onset of industrialization, but that major flood control projects in the mid-1950s have decreased the rate of sediment and contaminant accumulation in recent years. Three-dimensional Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) surveys and short-lived radioisotopic dating techniques will be used to map out sediment and contaminant distributions, and evaluate changes in rates of deposition since the formation of the lake in 1840 AD. The project will provide a valuable new data set for evaluating how sediment and associated contaminants have been distributed within the Connecticut River system, and offer new information on how major dam impoundment on the river have impacted the supply of sediment to the floodplain downstream.

Progress/Completion Report, 2011, PDF

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