Chemical, Physical, and Agronomic Characteristics of Middle Illinois River Sediments

John C. Marlin, Robert G. Darmody, James A. Slowikowski

Research output: Working paper


The data in this report were collected between 2004 and 2010 in support of potential Illinois River restoration efforts. Sediment cores to about two meters in length were obtained from the middle section of the river between Hennepin and Beardstown, Illinois, a distance of 190 km (118 miles). Researchers collected samples in backwater and main stem lakes where sediment deposited over former floodplain and shallow, pre-settlement lakes. The depth was selected on the assumption that 9-foot draft barges would be used to move sediment to placement or transfer sites. Planned dredging could restore depth for aquatic habitat and recreation. The dredged material could be used to create elevated habitat on islands or floodplain areas, as well as for topsoil and other purposes. The sampling was designed to screen this area to obtain information on the quality of sediment along this section of the river. In order to determine the pollutant concentrations in sediments, chemical analysis was completed for semi-volatiles, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pesticides, and inorganics (chemicals and compounds not containing carbon). This analysis was usually completed for the whole core length, but in some instances an additional shorter segment was also analyzed. Physical properties such as moisture content and unit weight were determined every 40 cm. Agronomic parameters including particle size, consistence, Munsell color, and sand content were obtained every 20 cm when possible. Fertility analysis included pH, percent organic matter, total exchange capacity (TEC), and extractable nutrients was conducted every 40 cm. The analyses of parameters for each core are presented in a several page section. Each section is identified by the number assigned to the core when collected. Tables provide the location of each core and a list of all the cores in each backwater. Each section begins with a page of detailed photographs showing the entire core length. A reader may select and copy the pages of interest. Companion publications: Beneficial Use of Illinois River Sediment for Agricultural and Landscaping Applications (; Returning the Soil to the Land: The Mud to Parks Project (
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherIllinois Sustainable Technology Center
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

Publication series

NameTR Series
PublisherIllinois Sustainable Technology Center


  • ISTC


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