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Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point: Army's Primary East Coast Deepwater Port

MOTSU FILEminimizerMany of us probably don’t think about the importance of dredging in relation to national security and maintaining access to our military bases and terminals.  Maintaining access to navigation basins, access channels, and berthing areas is a critical component in our nation’s ability to accomplish its military and national security mission.  When these waterways and berthing areas become shoaled, the immediate capacity of a facility or base to transport materials and personnel is reduced or delays are incurred until full project capabilities are restored through dredging. 

ANAMAR recently sampled and tested dredge material at the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU), which is one of the largest military terminals in the world.  It is a high-security facility that is constantly patrolled by boats with armed soldiers.  And for good reason—MOTSU is the key ammunition shipping point on the Atlantic coast for the Department of Defense and is the Army's primary east coast deepwater port.  As the world's largest military terminal, Sunny Point ships more explosive cargo and equipment to the nation's armed forces and allies than any other facility.  The mission of the facility is to be prepared to quickly and effectively support the U.S. military and allies through the shipment of munitions, ordnance, or other military materials in response to any global situation or military requirement.  The maintenance of navigation depth at MOTSU is a prerequisite to maintaining a high state of operational preparedness at the facility.

Built in 1951, the terminal serves as a transfer point between rail cars, trucks, and ships during the import or export of weapons, ammunition, explosives, tanks, and military equipment for the U.S. Army.  MOTSU sprawls across 8,600 acres on the west side of the Cape Fear River, near the towns of Boiling Spring Lakes and Southport.  A vast majority of MOTSU’s real estate is longleaf and loblolly pine forest, which provides a barrier between shipping operations and the general public.  To prevent harm to the surrounding community, there is a 2,100-acre buffer zone on Pleasure Island (Carolina, Kure, Wilmington, and Fort Fisher beaches) and a 4,300-acre buffer in Brunswick County.  Despite its isolation, Sunny Point is an impressive facility.  Its three huge docks can handle several ships simultaneously.  Large cranes and 62 miles of tracks within the terminal move military supplies and explosive cargo.  The two most controversial cargoes shipped through the terminal were World War II nerve gas in 1970 and European spent nuclear fuel rods in 1994.


Mims, Bryan.  2015.  Secrets of Sunny Point.  Our State Magazine.  May 26, 2015.  Accessed 01/02/18.

Wikipedia.  Accessed 01/29/18.

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The HMS Challenger; One of the Earliest Scientific Expeditions That Changed the Course of Scientific History


HMS Challenger Anatomy of a penguin

"Anatomy of Penguins" The Voyage of HMS Challenger

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The HMS Challenger set sail on December 21, 1872, from Portsmouth, England, containing an impressive crew of physicists, chemists, biologists, artists, and expert navigators, all of which shared the common goal of circumnavigating the globe while studying the flora and fauna that live within our oceans. On its 68,890-nautical-mile-voyage, the Challenger obtained 492 deep-sea soundings, 133 bottom samples, 151 open-water trawls, and 263 serial water temperature readings. It is estimated that on this voyage nearly 4,700 new species of marine life were discovered. Among some of the instruments used during this voyage were a shallow-water dredge, a deep-sea trawl (that had no closing device), specimen jars containing alcohol for preservation, thermometers and water sampling devices such as the Buchanan water sampler, 144 miles of Italian hemp rope, and 12.5 miles of piano wire for sampling gear, as well as many microscopes and instruments for the on-board laboratories. The ship contained a natural history laboratory where specimens were examined, identified, dissected, and drawn, and a chemistry laboratory containing a (then) state-of-the-art boiling device called a carbonic acid analysis apparatus, used for analyzing carbonic acid contained in samples.


  1. Oceanography: An Introduction to the Marine Environment (Peter K. Weyl, 1970)
  2. Rice, A.L. (1999). "The Challenger Expedition". Understanding the Oceans: Marine Science in the Wake of HMS Challenger. Routledge. pp. 27–48


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Sediment Sampling: What Is a PONAR Grab Sampler?


The PONAR grab sampler is the main bottom sampling device used on vessels to study the composition of the bottom sediments of a lake or river.  The grab sampler provides a means to obtain a somewhat quantitative and undisturbed sample of the bottom material. It takes a bite of known surface area and penetration depth, provided that the bottom material is neither too hard or nor too soft. It is called a grab sampler because of the manner in which it obtains samples.

Early studies on Lake Michigan used oceanographic and freshwater grab samplers that were not satisfactory. Research scientists from the Great Lakes Research Division of the University of Michigan devised a new sampler, the PONAR grab sampler, that was first available for sale in 1966. The sampler is named after Great Lakes scientists, Charles E. Powers, Robert A. Ogle, Jr., Vincent E. Noble, John C. Ayers, and Andrew Robertson.

The PONAR grab sampler consists of two opposing semi-circular jaws that are normally held open by a trigger mechanism. The sampler is lowered to the bottom where contact with the bottom sets off the trigger and a strong spring snaps the jaws shut trapping a sample of the bottom inside. Fine copper screen covers the top of the jaws so that the trapped material will not wash out as the sampler is retrieved.

For the full article, including a description of how the bottom material is studied, go to  

Source:  Excerpted from the Instructor’s Manual on Bottom Sampling and used with permission from Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI).

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Jacksonville Harbor Sampling Complete!

Jacksonville Harbor Sampling Complete!

Congratulations to the combined effort of the ANAMAR and ATHENA crew for completion of the sampling and compositing phases of the Jacksonville Harbor Sediment Characterization Testing! Way to go team!Jax Harbor sampling pic 3 FILEminimizer

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SC Ports Authority Exceed Ship Traffic Expectations

SC Ports Authority Exceed Ship Traffic Expectations

On Wednesday, November 19, South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) announced that the October 2014 port traffic was not only above the figures from last year, but above the set expectations. SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome stated, "While we are pleased with the strong levels of growth, we expect this growth to moderate in the last two months of the year and into next year. We do believe that the South Atlantic port market will continue to outperform the U.S. port market due to strength in manufacturing along with overall regional growth."

Newsome also discussed his gratitude for the statewide support for harbor deepening during the public comment period, stating, "We are grateful for the positive comments received concerning the Charleston harbor deepening study. Upon completion, the project will give Charleston the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast.”

Check out the SCPA News Release to read more.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Now Accepting Proposals for Dredging Project

USACE is planning to deepen the Intracoastal Waterway Indian River Reach to a required depth of 12 feet plus a 2-foot allowable overdepth (MLLW). This project is expected to remove approximately 308,000 cubic yards of shoaled material that will then be placed in a dredged material management area. The project’s total cost is estimated to at $1 million to $5 million.  According to the solicitation, on the Federal Business Opportunities website cited below, proposals will be due on September 3, 2014.



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A Perspective on the Temperature of Earth’s Climate

A Perspective on the Temperature of Earth’s Climate


It has never been easier to gain perspective of the changes in Earth’s climate, be it past, present, or future. Scientists today use proxies such as tree rings, corals, ocean and lake sediments, cave deposits, ice cores, fossils, boreholes, and glaciers to calculate historical changes. According to NOAA, the one steady factor that Earth’s climatic records indicate is constant change. The compilation of these changes with present-day data can begin to paint a diagram for the rate at which temperature will progressively change.

NOAA has been conducting studies using various data to compile a graph to present a pattern of temperature variability over the last 500 to 2000 years. The graph pictured shows temperature patterns over a nearly-2000-year span.









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Port Aransas Sampling Expected to Begin Tomorrow

Port Aransas Sampling Expected to Begin Tomorrow


ANAMAR’s sampling team, Terry Cake and Manager Michelle Rau, is in Corpus Christi Bay area and will start sampling operations tomorrow. The sampling will be performed at the federally maintained Corpus Christi Ship Channel and the offshore ocean dredged material disposal site (ODMDS). Good luck to the sampling crew!


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Using Buoys to Detect and Locate North Atlantic Right Whales in Shipping Channels

Using Buoys to Detect and Locate North Atlantic Right Whales in Shipping Channels

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is conducting a bioacoustics research program called the Right Whale Listening Network off the coast of Cape Cod.  Down the center of the shipping lane they have installed 10 Buoys 5 miles apart equipped with submerged hydrophones that can pick up whale calls for up to 5 miles.  After a process of elimination, the acoustics most likely to be a right whale are then relayed back to a 24-hour monitoring crew. 

Here’s how it works:

The hydrophones hang 60 to 120 feet below the buoys and relay acoustical data to an onboard computer system equipped with special software programmed to focus on sounds ranging from 50 to 350 Hertz.  Next, the software estimates each sound’s similarity to a right whale up-call by assessing a dozen characteristics such as duration and the starting, minimum, and maximum frequencies.  Right whale up-calls are typically 1 or 2 seconds long and normally do not exceed 2 seconds.  Finalizing this process of elimination, the on-board computer will then give each sound a number from 1 to 10, 10 being the most likely to be a right whale. 

The unit keeps a running tally of the 10 highest scoring sound clips and relays the information every 20 minutes via cell phone or satellite to a server at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Ten sound clips per buoy transmission mean that the 10-buoy array can yield up to one hundred 2‑second clips every 20 minutes.  Reviewing an entire day’s recordings from all 10 buoys takes analysts 1 to 2 hours.  Some days 90% of the clips recorded are actually right whales and some days only 10% are actually right whales.  The main recipients of whale alerts are natural gas ships operated by Northeast Gateway Deepwater Port.  However, analysts keep an up-to-date Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (SAS) available online and distributed by email.  Once a right whale has been detected, all vessels headed to the Natural Gas Terminal are encouraged to slow down to no more than 10 knots.  Also, U.S.  law requires vessels 65 feet and longer to travel at ≤10 knots in this area during certain times of year (see  for more information).

(Video Courtesy of: Whale and Dolphin Conservation)

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California’s Fishery Management Rejects Proposal to Expand the Use of Drift Gillnets off California Coast

California’s Fishery Management Rejects Proposal to Expand the Use of Drift Gillnets off California Coast


Last month the Pacific Fishery Management Council (the voting body tasked with managing fisheries 3 to 200 miles off of the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts) voted to cease consideration of a proposal to expand the use of drift gillnets off the California coast. The council also requested an extension of the emergency regulations implemented last year to protect endangered sperm whales from these deadly drift gillnets. This regulation states that if a single sperm whale is found dead or injured, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will ban the use of these nets. It also requires the presence of independent observers on all drift gillnet vessels operating in waters deeper than 6,500 feet where sperm whales are most often observed. Another part of enforcing such a rule requires vessel monitoring systems that track the locations of all drift gillnet vessels off the west coast of the United States. Fishing with drift gillnets is currently banned in state waters (0 to 3 miles offshore). The federal waters off California are the only place on the West Coast that drift gillnets can still be used to catch swordfish and sharks.

According to NOAA’s observer data from May 2007 to January 2012, an average of only 15.6% of drift gillnet fishing had been actually been observed.  Observers noted that the average bycatch [the incidental capture of non-target species] was approximately 63% of the total catch. For example, for every two swordfish the fishermen catch to sell, on average one blue shark, 15 ocean sunfish, and a long list of other marine wildlife are thrown overboard dead or injured, including endangered species such as the sperm whale and leatherback sea turtle.

Click here to see California drift gillnet aftermath photos.


Oceana News Articles:

September3, 2013 Article:

Emergency Rules Implemented to Protect Endangered Sperm Whales from California Drift Gillnets

March 13, 2014 Article:

Fishery Management Council Rejects Proposal to Expand Drift Gillnets

Other Sources:

          Sport Fishing News Article

 [CS1]Should this be at the beginning of the second paragraph?  Otherwise, the reader doesn’t know what the target species are.



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U.N. Court Ends Japanese Whaling in the Antarctic

U.N. Court Ends Japanese Whaling in the Antarctic

After years of environmental uproar concerning Japanese whaling in the Antarctic, the International Court of Justice has finally intervened by revoking all permits Japan has for whaling by way of a program called Jarpa II (previously called Jarpa) that claimed to perform lethal and non-lethal ‘scientific research’ on whales. After extensive review, the court decided to revoke all existing permits and to refrain from granting any future permits to that program based on numerous factors. Japan had been able to kill fin, humpback and Antarctic minke whales, stating that the killings were ‘based on scientific research’. However, Japan failed to actually wait for proper scientific review of Jarpa by the Scientific Committee before launching Jarpa II. Part of the court’s review found that the target sample size under Jarpa II was far fewer than the actual take. Three other factors played a large role in the court’s decision: the open-ended time frame of the program, its limited scientific output to date, and the lack of cooperation between JARPA II and other domestic and international research programs in the Antarctic Ocean.

The fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) was first listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 1986 and was changed to ‘endangered’ in 1996. The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) was first listed as endangered in 1986 and then reclassified as ‘vulnerable’ in 1996. There is a lack of sufficient solid evidence on the Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) to accurately determine its population, so it is currently listed as ‘data deficient.’


ECO World News Magazine: International Court of Justice: Japanese Whaling Ends Now!

Court Docket: Australia v. Japan: New Zealand Intervening

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:


Minke whale

Balaenoptera bonaerensis: Antarctic Minke Whale

humpback whale

Megaptera novaeangliae: Humpback Whale

Fin whale

Balaenoptera physalus: Fin Whale

Photo Source:

"Photo: Protected Resouces Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California."

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Gov. Rick Scott to Propose $55 Million Budget for Restoring Florida’s Springs

Gov. Rick Scott to Propose $55 Million Budget for Restoring Florida’s Springs

Florida’s governor Rick Scott announced Tuesday that he will propose $55 million in state funds for springs protection in the 2014-15 budget. This is double the funding that has been allocated to springs protection in any 3-year period since 2001.

Click here to read more.

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What can fossils tell us about the rock surrounding them?

What can fossils tell us about the rock surrounding them?

Fossil scallops in the Coquille River as a case study

During a benthic survey off the Coquille River, Oregon, in September 2013, ANAMAR was collecting samples of epifauna using a 12-foot otter trawl when suddenly the gear encountered unidentified rock. The trawl net snagged and the cable instantly snapped, losing the gear on the seafloor in about 45 feet of water. Although many attempts were made to recover the trawl using a grapple hook off the deck of the survey vessel (R/V Pacific Storm), the gear was too entangled on the seafloor to be brought up with that method. Directly following completion of the benthic survey, an ANAMAR subcontractor returned to the site and recovered the trawl gear using SCUBA divers. The trawl was still in good shape and the remaining trawl tows were completed for the survey. In addition to finding the trawl gear, the divers also observed several fossil scallop shells embedded in the rock on the seafloor. The fossil scallops were in excellent condition (see images below). The divers were able to pry a few of the fossil shells loose for closer inspection and photography.


jasons coquille FILEminimizer



Because the area where the survey took place is an ocean dredged material disposal site (ODMDS), information on the naturally occurring rocks found there is of interest to agencies tasked with managing the site (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). For this reason, and also out of personal interest, I began collaborating with paleontologists to determine the identity of the fossil scallops in the hopes of learning more about the rock they were found in. I soon found my answer after contacting specialists at the Burke Museum of Natural History in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Elizabeth Nesbitt, Curator of Paleontology, graciously identified the fossil scallops as either Patinopecten coosensis or P. oregonensis based on photos I sent her. The flared portions of the shell adjacent to the hinge (called auricles) serve as key characteristics differentiating these two species. These fossils lacked auricles so they could not be identified beyond these two species. However, based on the fossils and the associated matrix, Dr. Nesbitt was able to identify the rock formation the fossils were found in!

The rocks and fossils are part of the Empire Formation which is better known from exposures about 20 miles south of the Coquille River at Cape Blanco, Oregon. The Empire Formation, composed mostly of sandstone, along with the fossils it contains, are as old as 12 million years (Miocene), but it is theorized to be closer to 8 to 5 million years (Miocene-Pliocene epoch boundary). Since we know the identity of the rock as being part of the Empire Formation, we therefore know something about its composition. In this case, the rocks that snagged the trawl gear must have been composed of sandstone and some siltstone. This formation represents sands deposited in what was then a small marine basin which now is represented only by Coos Bay. It is probable that other rocks within the ODMDS are also fossiliferous sandstone/siltstone from the Empire Formation.

The above is an example of how fossils can help us infer the identity of the surrounding substrate. In this case, the identity of the fossil scallops, along with the matrix attached to the fossils, were used to pinpoint the exact formation they represent. Knowing the formation, we then were able to learn more about the composition and approximate geological age of surrounding rocks that represent the same formation. All this information came from observing and collecting a handful of fossils incidental to recovering of some equipment from the seafloor!

Interestingly, the French word for scallop is Coquille. Thus the Coquille River, where the fossils were collected, was actually named after a scallop!


Ehlen, J. 1967. Geology of state parks near Cape Arago, Coos County, Oregon. The Ore Bin 29(4):61–82.

Nesbitt, E. Department of Paleontology, Burke Museum of Natural History, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Pers. comm. 12/06/13.

Portell, R.W. Department of Invertebrate Paleontology, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Pers. comm. 11/18/13.

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Dredging and the Disposal of Dredged Material

Dredging and the Disposal of Dredged Material

The video above is an ANAMAR production presented by Paul Berman, ANAMAR’s Quality Assurance/Quality Control Officer, explaining some of the purposes and processes related to dredging. The information below is an excerpt from the Southeastern Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM) explaining further details of the steps that are taken to minimize the impact of dredged material disposal.

Sampling Reference Stations

Excerpted from the Southeastern Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM)

4.3 Sampling Reference Stations

For dredged material evaluations for ocean disposal, the test results from proposed dredging site samples are compared to test results from appropriate reference site sediments. Reference sediment is defined as “A sediment, substantially free of contaminants, that is as similar to the grain size of the dredged material and the sediment at the disposal site as practical, and reflects conditions that would exist in the vicinity of the disposal site had no dredged-material disposal ever occurred, but had all other influences on sediment condition taken place” (1991 Green Book, Section 3.1.2). Reference sediment sampling stations are selected to simulate conditions at the proposed disposal site in the absence of past dredged material disposal. Reference sediments must be collected for each evaluation. Results from previous evaluations are not acceptable. Test organisms should be selected to minimize sensitivity to possible sediment grain size differences among the reference site, the control site, and the proposed dredging site.

Using historical reference sites and EPA Region 4 studies of reference areas, EPA Region 4 has identified preferred reference sites for each ODMDS for various grain size distributions. These sites are identified in Appendix K. One or more of these sites may be used and should be selected based on the grain size of the proposed dredged material. These reference areas shall be utilized. Alternative reference sites will be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Reference sediments may be collected from (1) a single reference-sediment sampling location; or (2) from a number of approved locations. Reference samples may be composited and tested according to guidance provided in Chapter 8 of the 1991 Green Book.

Replicate sediment samples should be collected at the reference site(s) using an appropriate collection device [see Table 5 for the EPA QA/QC Guidance (EPA, 1995)]. In most cases, a grab sample is adequate for reference sediment stations. Replicates may be composited into a single sample [see Chapter 8 of the 1991 Green Book or Chapter 4 of EPA (2001b) for guidance]. The collected sediment should be of sufficient quantity to conduct all required testing. A minimum of three replicate sediment samples from the reference site(s) should be collected for all testing [i.e., three grabs at one site or one grab at three sites or any other combination for a minimum of three grabs].

Citation: USEPA/USACE. 2008. Southeast Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM) for Requirements and Procedures for Evaluation of the Ocean Disposal of Dredged Material in South­eastern U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coast Waters. EPA 904-B-08-001. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division, Atlanta, GA. 2008.pdf

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Physical and Chemical Testing of Dredged Material

Physical and Chemical Testing of Dredged Material

Note: This blog is an excerpt from the SERIM* (Southeastern Regional Implementation Manual) concerning the physical and chemical testing of dredged material.


Testing is frequently required to characterize the physical and chemical properties of sediments proposed for dredging and disposal. The following information supplements Section 9.0 of the 1991 Green Book and Section 2.8.1 of the QA/QC Manual (EPA, 1995). Strict adherence to established testing protocols and detection limits while conducting all analyses will aid in expediting review and concurrence for projects. Any deviation from these protocols should be approved by the USACE SAD district and EPA Region 4 prior to analysis. Such deviation should be clearly defined in the SAP (see Sections 2.2 and 4.1). Established QA/QC procedures must be followed (see Section 8.0).

5.1   Physical Analysis

Sediment proposed for dredging and disposal and reference sediments should be analyzed for grain size distribution, TOC, and total solids/percent moisture (Table 5-1). In addition, specific gravity, bulk density, and Atterberg limits may be required on a case-by-case basis. Atterberg limits should be determined when clumping of dredged material is expected during disposal (e.g., new work projects in cohesive clays). The grain size analysis should be conducted according to the methods described in Plumb (1981) or ASTM (2002) and reported as percentages retained by weight in the following size classes, at a minimum:

  • Gravel
  • Coarse Sand
  • Medium Sand
  • Fine Sand
  • Silt/Clay (expressed as “Fines”)

Gravel and sand fractions should be separated using the standard sieve sizes indicated in Table 5‑1 and reported as cumulative frequency percentages (Section 7.1). The USCS should be utilized and each sample assigned the appropriate two-letter group (see ASTM, 2006). There may be cases where silt and clay fractions will need to be distinguished. USACE SAD districts and EPA Region 4 will provide guidance on a case-by-case basis on whether it is needed. Silt and clay fractions should be quantified by hydrometer (ASTM, 2002), pipette, or Coulter Counter (Plumb, 1981). Use of a laser diffraction grain size analyzer is also acceptable (Loizeau et al., 1994). Total solids and percent moisture should be measured as described by Plumb (1981) or APHA (1995).

It should be noted that the results of the above physical analyses may be used to support compliance with one or more of the three exclusionary criteria in 40 CFR 227.13(b) for ocean disposal (see Section 3.1.1).


Table 5-1. Parameters Used for the Physical Characterization of Sediments



Measure/Quantitation Limit

Grain Size Distribution

Plumb, 1981; ASTM, 2002


Gravel (>4.75mm)

Retained on No. 4 sieve

Coarse Sand (2.0-4.75mm)


Passing through No. 4 sieve and retained on No. 10 sieve

Medium Sand (0.425-2.0mm)


Passing through No. 10 sieve and retained on No. 40 sieve

Fine Sand (0.075-0.425mm)


Passing through No. 40 sieve and retained on No. 200 sieve

Silt (0.005-0.075mm)


As determined by hydrometer, pipette or Coulter counter/laser particle size analyzer

Clay (<0.005mm)


As determined by hydrometer, pipette or Coulter counter/laser particle size analyzer

Total (percent) Solids

Plumb, 1981

Value based on mass. 1.0%

Total Organic Carbon

9060 (SW846)


Specific Gravity

Plumb, 1981


Atterberg Limits*

ASTM 4318D


*Not needed in all cases. Consult your USACE district and EPA prior to analysis.

5.2   Chemical Analysis of Sediments

As discussed in Section, chemical analysis of sediments can be used to document compliance with applicable EPA WQC or state WQS. However, it cannot be used for determination of water column toxicity or the assessment of contaminant toxicity and bioac­cumulation from the material to be dredged. As discussed in Section 3.2.2, sediment chemistry can be used to screen out sediments that are not likely to meet the LPC or to assist in selecting a compositing or testing scheme under Tier III. It can also be used in Tier I as part of confirmatory analysis (see Section 3.1.2). It should be noted that chemical analysis of sediments is not required to document compliance with the ocean dumping criteria, but can be a beneficial tool in evaluating current and future projects.

The COCs that should be analyzed on a routine basis are listed in Tables 5-3 through 5-7. The routine metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and pesticides listed in these tables were chosen based on the requirements of 40 CFR 227.6, their toxicity, their persistence in the environment, their ability to bioaccumulate, and their widespread and consistence occurrence in the estuarine, marine, and freshwater sediments and organisms of the southeastern United States. These lists can be reduced or expanded based on site-specific knowledge of pollution sources or historical testing showing the presence or lack of presence of specific contaminants. Table 3-2 provides a list of resources for determining COCs. It should be explicitly stated in the SAP when listed contaminants will not be analyzed. One of the primary sources of dioxin-like compounds [chlorinated dibenzo‑p‑dioxins (CDDs), chlorinated dibenzofurans (CDFs), and certain PCBs] in surface water is bleached pulp and paper mills (EPA, 2001c). Dioxin-like compounds will be added to the analyte list when pulp and paper mills are or were present upstream in the watershed of the proposed dredging area unless it has been previously documented that these compounds are not present within the sediments in the vicinity of the project. Other major sources of dioxin-like substances to the air and land that could deposit in sediments include solid and medical waste incineration, secondary copper smelting, and cement kilns (EPA, 2001c). If any of these activities are present in the project vicinity, dioxin-like compounds should be considered. Appropriate methods and target detection limits for the dioxin-like compounds and any other supplemental COCs can be found in Appendix M of this document, the EPA QA/QC Guidance (EPA, 1995), the Inland Testing Manual, or the 1991 Green Book. If sediment chemistry is to be used in the screening method (Section to document compliance with the WQC, analyses must be performed for all analytes listed in Appendix F.

The target detection limits (TDLs) listed in the tables are performance goals (EPA, 1995). Laboratory reporting limits (LRL) for each project should be at or below these values (Jones and Clarke, 2005). LRLs are the minimum levels at which a lab will report analytical chemistry data with confidence in the quantitative accuracy of that data. LRLs are adjusted for sample-specific parameters such as sample weight, percent solids, or dilution. As routine data acceptance criteria, the LRLs for each analyte should be below the listed TDL, with the caveat that some sediments with higher percent moisture content may have LRLs above the TDLs. It is the applicant’s (USACE SAD district for Civil Works projects) responsibility to meet the TDLs. Some laboratories have had difficulties in the past meeting the required TDLs because of inappropriate sample preparation and clean-up procedures to remove interfering substances typically found in marine sediments (e.g., elemental sulfur). If the TDLs cannot be attained, a detailed explanation should accompany the data providing the reasons for not attaining the required TDLs. Re-analysis may be necessary or the contaminant may have to be assumed to be present at the reported LRL. Appropriate sample preparation, clean-up, and analytical methods have been developed for estuarine/marine sediments by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (1993) and the EPA research laboratory at Narragansett, RI (EPA, 1993a). Established sample and clean-up procedures are presented in Table 5-2.


USEPA/USACE. 2008. Southeast Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM) for Requirements and Procedures for Evaluation of the Ocean Disposal of Dredged Material in South­eastern U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coast Waters. EPA 904-B-08-001. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division, Atlanta, GA. 2008.pdf


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Word from the Field: Oregon ODMDS Sampling

Word from the Field: Oregon ODMDS Sampling


Congratulations to the ANAMAR crew working on the Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Sites off the Oregon coast. They completed sampling eight stations in and around the Chetco ODMDS yesterday and are collecting samples from the Coquille site today. While sampling, the crew spotted a grey whale and witnessed some picturesque fog rolling through.

Pictured above is the box corer the crew used to collect samples from the Chetco ODMDS, and below is a photo of the Oregon fog.

michportlpic2 FILEminimizer


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Sediment Testing Interference Series – Part IV

Specific Types of Interferences and Solutions (continued from Part III)

Toxicological Interferences

Whereas chemical testing is used to determine the concentration of target contaminants in a sediment sample, toxicological testing is used to determine the effects of the sediment on the survival and development of multiple representative species. Since the organisms will be affected by the sediment as a whole, and since the material is typically a mixture of sand, silt, and clay with numerous chemical contaminants present, it may be difficult or impossible to determine the exact cause of high mortality or abnormal development. Several interferences, or confounding factors, have been identified, however, and are described below.


Above certain levels, ammonia is highly toxic to most marine organisms. It is also a non-persistent toxicant in the environment, and procedures have been developed to help reduce ammonia to more tolerable levels for the test organisms. These procedures were initially developed for the more sensitive benthic species, but, with EPA approval, can also be applied to other organisms under certain circumstances.

Total Organic Carbon (TOC) Availability and Quality

Changes in the nature of TOC in the dredge material may pose limitations to test organism survival. Organic compounds can change over time, particularly with changes in temperature, moisture content, and oxygen availability. If the quality of TOC degrades over time, it can affect the survival of certain species, e.g., for Leptocheirus plumulosus due to poor quality food in the sediment. Though the sediment may have low toxicity, survival can be substantially reduced. Providing a small amount of food for the organisms during analysis alleviates the problem and allows for a more accurate determination of toxicity.


Marine organisms are sensitive to the salinity of the test sediment. Sediment collected from far upstream or from terrestrial locations will often have much lower saline levels than sediment from offshore locations and could cause stress to the test organisms and increase mortality. An acclimatization period for the sediment, typically lasting a few days to 3 weeks, will gradually expose the sediment to saline. Once the acclimatization is completed, the test organisms can be added and testing can commence.

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Sediment Testing Interference Series – Part III

Specific Types of Interferences and Solutions (continued from Part II)

Organic Interferences

Organic compounds (PAHs, pesticides, PCBs) are typically measured by either mass spectroscopy or retention time. Because of a preliminary extraction procedure, salt does not interfere in the analysis of organic compounds, but sediment can still be affected by matrix interferences in a number of ways.

  • Complex organic molecules can bind together or degrade over time and form non-target compounds.
  • New contaminants that have the same characteristic mass or retention time as the target analyte can be introduced into the environment (from leaking vessels or industrial runoff, for example).
  • Sediment will likely settle into separate layers, leading to different chemical and physical characteristics in each layer. The sediment will require thorough homogenization prior to analysis to ensure that it is representative of the site.

There are a variety of solutions to eliminate or minimize potential interferences during preparation and analysis.

  • Commercially available cartridges are used to remove or “clean up” interfering (non-target) compounds for most organic analytical groups, such as PAHs, pesticides, and PCBs.
  • Using more-sensitive equipment can help distinguish target compounds from interfering compounds. High resolution mass spectroscopy (HRMS) is often used for testing parameters such as dioxins and PCBs to narrowly target specific compounds. Results from these procedures will often be much more sensitive than when ordinary mass spectrometer tests are applied, but these procedures are also considerably more costly. As one example, the cost for analyzing PCBs by gas chromatography is around $200 per sample, but for HRMS it is around $800 per sample.
  • Different types of detectors are available for different analyses. For example, an electron capture detector is useful for pesticide and PCB analysis.
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Endangered and Threatened Wildlife: 90-day Finding on Petitions to List the Great Hammerhead Shark as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife:  90-day Finding on Petitions to List the Great Hammerhead Shark as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced a summary of their findings concerning the listing of the Great Hammerhead Shark as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“We, NMFS, announce a 90-day finding on two petitions to list the great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) range-wide or, in the alternative, the Northwest Atlantic distinct population segment (DPS) or any other identified DPSs, as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act and to designate critical habitat. We find that the petitions and information in our files present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We will conduct a status review of the species to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information pertaining to this species from any interested party.”

DATES: Information and comments on the subject action must be received by May 26, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, information, or data on this document, identified by the code NOAA-NMFS-2013-0046, by any of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0046, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail: Submit written comments to Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910., Attn: Maggie Miller
    Fax: 301-713-4060

Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter "N/A" in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maggie Miller, NMFS, Office of Protected

Resources, (301) 427-8403.

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Sediment Testing Interference Series – Introduction - Part I

During the course of an environmental dredging project, samples will be collected and sent to one or more laboratories for analysis. For most dredging projects, the samples collected will be of a complex nature and will often contain various types of interferences that must be addressed during analysis to ensure that the most accurate results are reported to the client and to the regulatory agency reviewing the results for final sediment disposal options.

Interferences may be found in any type of analytical testing. For dredging projects, such as those falling under MPRSA Section 103 protocols, testing will be required for physical, chemical, and toxicological parameters. This four-part blog will describe the most typical and lesser-known types of interferences.

Chemical Interferences during Chemical Analysis

Chemical matrix interferences are encountered when the project sample contains a constituent that either produces a signal indistinguishable from a target analyte or attenuates the target signal. Elutriate samples for ocean dredging projects have many common types of matrix interferences (e.g., saline) for trace metals analysis. In addition, the chemical composition of the project samples may have interfering compounds specific to the sampling location.

The most common interference found when analyzing dredge material is saline interference with the analysis of metals. Other analyses prone to matrix interferences include pesticides, PCBs, and PAHs. Laboratory methodology has been developed to address the most common interferences, either through laboratory sample preparation or by adjusting instrument settings for specific sample matrices. If such procedures cannot completely eliminate an interference, the data will be qualified or the method detection limit will be elevated, and an explanation for the interference will be provided by the laboratory.


Author: Paul Berman, B.S - QA Officer/Staff Scientist

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