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By Gary R. Long, Mark A. Ayers, Edward Callender, and Peter C. Van Metre

Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4272

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Sediment cores were extracted from three lakes in northeastern New Jersey and one lake on western Long Island, New York, as part of the U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment Program. Sediment layers were dated by use of cesium-137 (137Cs), copper, lead, or dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) profiles. Sediment layers were analyzed for seven selected trace elements, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel, and zinc, and five hydrophobic organochlorine compounds, including chlordane, dieldrin, total DDT, total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

All seven trace elements were detected throughout the cores from all four lakes. Concentrations of all elements, except arsenic, were elevated in the three cores from lakes within urbanized watersheds (Packanack Lake, Orange Reservoir, and Newbridge Pond) relative to the concentrations in the lake core collected below the largely forested, reference watershed (Clyde Potts Reservoir). Results of trend analyses indicate that concentrations of all trace elements, with the exception of arsenic and lead, were relatively constant throughout the core from the minimally urbanized Clyde Potts Reservoir. In urban lakes, significant upward trends in concentrations from deeper to shallower sediments were observed either to peak concentrations or throughout the core for all elements, with the exception of chromium at all lakes and arsenic and nickel at Orange Reservoir. This finding indicates that changes in population and land use in the urbanized watersheds over the period of sedimentary record have contributed to upward trends in trace-element concentrations. Although downward trends in concentrations were observed for some trace elements in the years after their concentrations peaked, concentrations of all trace elements in urban lake cores were higher in the most recently deposited sediments than at the base of each respective core.

Lead concentrations over time were highly correlated with the population in the vicinity of the lake until the concentration peak in sediment deposited in the mid-1970's. Concentrations of lead in lake sediment appear to be closely related to the use of leaded gasoline because lead concentrations generally decreased after the use of leaded gasoline was phased-out in the mid-1970's. Zinc concentrations were highly correlated with population over the entire length of the core. In general, zinc concentrations increased in the three urbanized watersheds, probably in response to increasing population and vehicular use. This trend was not evident at Clyde Potts Reservoir, however, where vehicular traffic in the watershed is minimal.

Detectable concentrations of chlordane, total DDT, and total PCBs were present in cores from all lakes; however, dieldrin was detected only in the Newbridge Pond and Packanack Lake cores. Concentrations generally were higher in cores from the urbanized Newbridge Pond and Orange Reservoir watersheds than in those from the minimally urbanized Clyde Potts Reservoir watershed. With the exception of chlordane in the Clyde Potts and Orange Reservoir cores, concentrations of the four organochlorine compounds had significant downward trends from peak concentrations to recently deposited sediment or non-significant trends throughout the core. On the basis of these findings and as a result of regulatory actions prohibiting the production and use of these compounds, downward trends in sedimentary concentrations are expected to continue; however, the persistence of these compounds indicates that a substantial amount of time may be required to purge them from the watersheds.

Concentrations of PAHs in sediment generally increased with population growth and urbanization, probably as a result of increased fossil-fuel combustion (gasoline and home-heating fuels and other uses (roads and parking lots paved with asphalt) associated with increased urban development and vehicular traffic. This finding is supported by low concentrations of PAHs in Packanack Lake sediments in the 1930's, before the watershed was urbanized and when automobiles were comparatively rare. As vehicular use and urbanization increase in these watersheds, the general increase of PAH concentrations in lake sediments can be expected to continue.

Data from this study indicate that changes in population, land use, and chemical use in the urbanized watersheds over the period of sedimentary record have contributed to upward trends in concentrations of trace elements and hydrophobic organic compounds. Although downward trends were observed for some constituents in the years after their concentrations peaked, concentrations of most constituents in urban lake cores were higher in the most recently deposited sediments than at the base of each respective core and in the reference lake cores. Similar trends in concentrations of these constituents have been observed in sediment cores from other urban lakes across the United States.


		Purpose and scope
Description of study area
		Clyde Potts Reservoir
		Newbridge Pond
		Orange Reservoir
		Packanack Lake
Chemical constituents selected for analysis
		Trace elements
		Organochlorine compounds
		Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Collection, processing, analysis, and age dating of sediment cores
		Collection, processing, and analysis
		Age dating
		Data analysis
Occurrence of, and trends in, trace elements
Occurrence of, and trends in, hydrophobic organic compounds
		Total dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane
		Total polychlorinated biphenyls
		Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Effect of watershed characteristics and regulatory action on constituent concentrations in sedment
		Trace elements
		Organochlorine compounds
		Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Summary and conclusions
References cited

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