Investigation of Metal and Organic Contaminant Distributions and Sedimentation Rates in Backwater Lakes along the Illinois River

Richard A. Cahill, Gary L. Salmon, James A. Slowikowski

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingTechnical report


Systematic sub-sampling of sediment cores in sections of uniform thickness is necessary in order to evaluate historic changes in sediment quality, to determine the vertical extent of contamination, and to measure sedimentation rates. With these objectives in mind, fourteen sediment cores were collected during March 2002 using the Illinois State Water Survey vibracorer. Concentrations of metals and total organic carbon were measured using standard techniques. Concentrations of chlorinated pesticides, phenolic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were measured by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The concentrations of chlorinated pesticides, phenolic compounds and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were below the method detection limit in all sediment samples analyzed. However, there was a wide range in concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which were detected in all sediment samples. Also, a wide range of metal concentrations was noted in the sediments evaluated. Lower concentrations of metals were found in the upper 0.5 m of sediment but concentrations were elevated at depths ranging from 1.0 m to 1.5 m. Sedimentation rates were estimated using cesium-137 radiometric dating on 14 vibracores. Sedimentation rates range from < 0.1 to 1.9 cm/yr, with an average of 0.9 cm/yr. These rates are comparable to those reported in previous studies.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationChampaign, IL
PublisherIllinois Sustainable Technology Center
StatePublished - Dec 2008

Publication series

NameIllinois Sustainable Technology Center -- RR Series, no. 112


  • Water -- Pollution -- Illinois
  • Illinois River
  • Metals -- Environmental aspects -- Illinois -- Lakes
  • Organic water pollutants
  • Sedimentation and deposition -- Illinois -- Illinois River


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