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Publication Detail

Title: How tropical cyclone flooding caused erosion and dispersal of mercury-contaminated sediment in an urban estuary: The impact of Hurricane Harvey on Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto Estuary, Galveston Bay, USA.

Authors: Dellapenna, Timothy M; Hoelscher, Christena; Hill, Lisa; Al Mukaimi, Mohammad E; Knap, Anthony

Published In Sci Total Environ, (2020 Dec 15)

Abstract: Hurricane Harvey (Harvey), a slow-moving storm, struck the Texas coast as a category 4 hurricane. Over the course of 53 days, the floodwaters of Harvey delivered 14 × 109 m3 of freshwater to Galveston Bay. This resulted in record flooding of Houston bayous and waterways, all of which drained into the San Jacinto Estuary (SJE,) with its main tributaries being Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto River. The lower SJE and lower Buffalo Bayou has experienced up to 3 m of land subsidence in the past 100 years and, as a result, prior to Hurricane Harvey, up to 2 m of sediment within the upper seabed contained an archive of high concentrations of Total Hg (HgT) and other particle-bound and porewater contaminants. Within the SJE, Harvey eroded at least 48 cm of the sediment column, resulting in the transport of an estimated 16.4 × 106 tons of sediment and at least 2 tons of Hg into Galveston Bay. This eroded sediment was replaced by a Harvey storm deposit of 7.73 × 106 tons of sediment and 0.96 tons within the SJE, mostly sourced from Buffalo Bayou. Considering that the frequency of slow-moving tropical cyclones capable of delivering devastating rainfall may be increasing, then one can expect that delivery of Hg and other contaminants from the archived sediment within urbanized estuaries will increase and that what happened during Harvey is a harbinger of what is to come.

PubMed ID: 32818899 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: No MeSH terms associated with this publication

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