URI Graduate School of Oceanography researchers awarded $250,000 to track contaminants

in Narragansett Bay Narragansett, RI — March 30, 2000 — A team of scientists from the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) have received $250,000 from the Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET) at the University of New Hampshire to develop and apply new technology to track contaminants in estuaries impacted by events such as storms and dredging. Geological oceanographers John King of West Kingston, Christopher Kincaid of North Kingstown, and Beth Lacey Laliberte of Wakefield and chemical oceanographer James Quinn of Kingston will measure concentrations of nutrients and reactive metals, such as iron and copper, using a combination of new instrumentation, geochemical studies, and sediment samples. Their analysis will characterize changes in water quality that occur during major storm or other events. The focus of their research will be the Providence River and Narragansett Bay. “This grant will allow us to determine the impact of highly contaminated sediments moving from the Providence River to Narragansett Bay,” said King. “Any estuary that has highly contaminated sediments in close proximity to National Estuarine Research Reserve locations would benefit from this information on transport.” In addition to using traditional methods of analysis and tracking, the research team will also use new technology developed at the University of Rhode Island under the auspices of the Ocean Technology Center. A SubChem Analyzer, a high resolution horizontal and vertical profiler developed by GSO chemical oceanographer Alfred Hansen of Jamestown, will gather real-time data to characterize chemical contaminants and biological distributions in the water. In addition, Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers will be deployed to determine the circulation patterns in the Providence River and Narragansett Bay. “This is a new approach to in situ (on-site) technology for the study of how contaminants are transported after events such as hurricanes or Nor’easters,” said King. “The results of this project will help in the scientific study of other estuaries and the proper management of valuable estuarine resources.” x-x-x Contact: Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642, lcugini@gso.uri.edu