This project responds to the demand to better understand and assess lower Mississippi sediment-hosted pollutant transport. We have chosen to compare the storage and delivery of environmentally relevant contaminants (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pesticides, nutrients and metals) in both the lower Atchafalaya and Mississippi River systems, two systems in which the same riverine load is processed quite differently. Such a strategy allows us to directly target the variable effects of river- and shelf sediments as a controlling mechanism for the fluvial delivery of contaminants to the Gulf of Mexico.
We will also be able to reconstruct and evaluate a complete historical inventory of these pollutants in this heavily industrialized corridor by looking at shallow sediment records. Results will be used to assess the impact of sediment-hosted contaminants and will be evaluated in a comprehensive hydrogeologic context (i.e., what is the role of storage, erosion and seasonal flooding in the ultimate delivery of pollutants to the Gulf of Mexico?).