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Mapping elemental contamination on Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

February 7, 2018

Palmyra Atoll, once a WWII U.S. Navy air station, is now a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge with nearly 50 km2 of coral reef and 275 ha of emergent lands with forests of Pisonia grandistrees and colonies of several bird species. Due to the known elemental and organic contamination from chemicals associated with aviation, power generation and transmission, waste management, and other air station activities, a screening survey to map elemental concentrations was conducted. A map of 1944 Navy facilities was georeferenced and identifiable features were digitized. These data informed a targeted survey of 25 elements in soils and sediment at locations known or suspected to be contaminated, using a hand-held X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. At dozens of locations, concentrations of elements exceeded established soil and marine sediment thresholds for adverse ecological effects. Results were compiled into a publicly available geospatial dataset to inform potential remediation and habitat restoration activities.

Publication Year 2018
Title Mapping elemental contamination on Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge
DOI 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.12.065
Authors Matthew A. Struckhoff, Carl E. Orazio, Donald E. Tillitt, David K. Shaver, Diana M. Papoulias
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine Pollution Bulletin
Index ID 70195166
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center