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Contaminated Sediments Database for the Gulf of Maine, OFR 02-403
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Site Map
Content Overview
How to Reach Us

Database Construction


How to Access
 the Data
Data Utilization
Data Tables & Maps
Geographic Context
 & Outside Links

References Cited



The greatest population growth during the last century has occurred in coastal regions. Urbanization has stressed the coastal ecosystem, introduced contaminants to the marine environment, and raised concerns about how to best manage natural resources. Data of historical, regional, and interdisciplinary scope is required to address many scientific questions and policy issues related to contaminants in sediments. Over time, contaminant inputs have changed in response to changes in industrial practices, population centers, and environmental regulations (Valette-Silver and Salomans, 1993). We need to know the distribution of potentially harmful contaminants (U.S. EPA, 1998) in the marine environment, and their sources, sinks, transport paths, and residence times, in order to better understand and predict their impact.

The U.S. federal government, through its agencies (USEPA, USGS and NOAA) and laws (16 USC § 1447-1447f (1990); 33 USC § 1330 (1987)) has recognized the need for assessment of the distribution of contaminants in marine sediments. Many of these agencies began field programs aimed at monitoring coastal sediment quality; however, these projects tend to focus on monitoring selected stations, providing syntheses for management purposes, or are restricted to small geographical areas. They rarely attempt to compile or preserve the vast and often poorly documented volume of historical data that exists. The historical, existing data are geographically clustered, of variable quality, and its references are widely dispersed and not always accessible. Existing data need to be utilized to the maximum, despite the difficulty in working with heterogeneous data and documents. Acquisition of new data is expensive and may duplicate previous efforts if a full interpretation of existing data has not occurred. In addition, historic data capture a timeframe that cannot be repeated. They will then better serve as a foundation, baseline, and starting point for further work.

This contribution presents the Database of Contaminated Sediments for the Gulf of Maine, which provides a documented compilation of existing, edited data on contaminated sediments and related sediment properties. The data are compiled from as many sources as possible, reviewed for data quality, and integrated into a common format in order to produce a regional database. This database contains original data from heterogeneous sources and provides documentation about the quality of those data. The data are sorted, mapped, and plotted to create a synthesis that addresses a variety of research and management applications. A description of the methods utilized to create the database, the structure of the compiled database, plots and maps of the data, and discussion of its application is provided here. The user should navigate within this document through the sidebar to access the text and figures or to view and download the data tables.

The compilation of this database has also resulted in development of methodologies that aid rescue of historical data elsewhere. Collaboration is an indispensable ingredient to success in addressing a task of this magnitude: identifying, integrating, and validating the data, and then making the database widely available to produce syntheses and maps that can resolve scientific and practical problems. The data are widely dispersed and require agreement on database content, formats and definitions and familiarity with how the data was produced. Understanding of regional or large-scale processes also requires an understanding of local ecosystems and small-scale processes by the people who know them best. By drawing on the expertise of many participants in this work, we have striven to produce a research tool that will be effectively and widely used now, and will also lend itself to augmentation and continued use in the future.

How to Reach Us

To request help in accessing the data or website : Jamey M. Currence
To report new references, additions or corrections to compiled data: Polly Hastings
To discuss the use of the data for specific projects: Marilyn Buchholtz ten Brink and Ellen Mecray
For local help in accessing or utilizing the database: Polly Hastings
To update contact information: Jamey M. Currence

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Home  /  Site Map  /  Introduction  /  Overview  /  Contacts  /  DB Construction  /  Data Access  /  Data Utilization  /  Data Tables & Maps  /  Geographic Context/Links  /  References  /  Collaborators  /  Acknowledgements  /  Disclaimer
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