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Scientists find geochemical fingerprint of World Trade Center collapse

Dust and debris deposits associated with the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center have left a distinct fingerprint on the sedimentary record in New York Harbor, scientists have found. Their results appear in the January 21, 2003, issue of the journal EOS, a publication of the American Geophysical Union. This geochemical fingerprint, the researchers believe, may facilitate a better understanding of the short-to-medium term processes that affect the input, dispersal, and fate of particles and contaminants in the lower Hudson River.

The results, says scientist Curtis Olsen of the University of Massachusetts at Boston (UMB), an author of the EOS paper along with university colleagues and scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Geological Survey, provide new information for assessing the potential environmental and human health impact of the World Trade Center catastrophe, and for validating sediment and contaminant transport models already developed for the lower Hudson River estuary (an estuary is the meeting ground of freshwater flowing downstream from rivers, and currents carrying saltwater inland from the ocean).

Explains Larry Clark of the National Science Foundation
(NSF)'s division of ocean sciences, which funded the research, "The destruction of the World Trade Center and the resulting deposition of dust and ash into the Hudson River have provided scientists with a definitive geochemical signal. This research provides valuable information on geochemical processes in New York Harbor and the Hudson River estuary, and has applications to other estuaries and coastal oceans, as well." NSF is an independent federal agency that funds research and education in all fields of science and engineering.

The combination of the collapse of the towers, the fires that burned at the excavation site for three months after the World Trade Center attack, and subsequent site-remediation activities, rele
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Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-8070
National Science Foundation
20-Jan-2003


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