Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



This project is one component of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Coastal Geology Program directed to polluted sediments. Its long-term aim is to develop a comprehensive database on estuarine contaminated sediments that provides a summary of information and a digital reference source of detailed and readily accessible data. It focuses on Chesapeake Bay because there is a wealth of data on bottom sediments and sedimentary contaminants. However, this data is fragmented, uncollated and dispersed in many papers, books, reports, files and documents, often local sources, outside the mainstream of national consideration and scientific knowledge. Without an organized body of data, resource managers and research scientists are handicapped in structuring decisions and preparing plans. They may not know what data exists, where to find it and how to obtain it. Potentially valuable data may go unused because it is overlooked, poorly documented or difficult to obtain.

To address problems of contaminated sediment the U.S. Geologtcal Survey's Branch of Atlantic Marine Geology (Woods Hole) executed a cooperative agreement in May 1992 with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The project aims to structure a PC accessible database for incorporation into CD ROM media. It draws on existing historical data, mainly from published and unpublished "grey" literature spanning the last 55 years.

This contrasts to databases of NOAA's Status and Trends Monitoring Program and EPA's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) that draw on new data from field surveys. The data sources come from diverse scientific, academic, commercial and government organizations, and from a range of fields including sedimentology, geochemistry, estuarine marine science, pollution and benthic biology. Historical data are of value for evaluating changes caused by dredging and disposal as well as storms and to assess baseline concentrations prior to contamination.

Database development of this project consists of four components or tasks:

1. To organize and structure a database with a set of procedures, data dictionary and codebook, formatted for transfer to a CD ROM file.

2. A search for data sources in the literature and in files on bottom sediments and their contaminants.

3. An inventory of relevant data sources according to location, station abundance, occurrence of variables, etc.

4. Compilation of prototype digital data files from selected data sources.


Addresses: Task 1 Data Base Organization, and Task 4 Data Processing


Included in

Oceanography Commons



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