RAPID: Storm layer deposition, contaminant deliver and dispersal from Hurricane Ian (Sept. 2022) along SW Florida estuaries and fringing mangroves Grant uri icon


  • This proposal is to assess the thickness of the flood deposit created by the storm surge and associated flood deposit left by Hurricane Ian in Estero, Naples and Dollar Bay, Florida, and fringing mangroves. In addition, we will determine, within the flood deposit, the amount of mercury and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s). POPs include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and per- and polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS). POPs are a ‘legacy ‘contaminants sourced from the combustion of hydrocarbons and other fuels; by-products of agrochemicals, including pesticides; and other industrial chemicals, including fire retardants. The proposed study area will range from where the eye of the storm passed through much of the southwestern “dirty side” of the storm, where the maximum wind and wave impact of the storm occurred. The study sites also range from heavily developed, urbanized estuaries largely consisting of cut and fill canal communities (e.g., Caloosahatchee River, Charlotte Harbor, and Naples Bay) to nature preserves and wildlife areas with natural mangrove shorelines and no development (e.g., Cape Haze, Pine Island Sound, Estero Bay, and Dollar Bay). This project will add to our broader understanding of how tropical storms: 1) disperse both sediment as well as contaminants; 2) feed the growth of Florida mangroves; 3) impact the sustainability of fragile coastal systems in a rapidly changing climate regime. This project will build upon previous collaborations between TAMUG and FGCU by supporting undergraduates and graduate students as well as faculty from both institutions through a collaborative field/laboratory research experience. Results will be shared with the SW Florida Water Development Board as well as other regional partners working with FGCU. Presentations at national meetings and published peer reviewed papers are also planned.

    To assess both the thickness of the storm layer as well as to collect samples for the contaminant assessment, a series of push cores, gravity cores and vibra-cores will be collected from throughout the navigable portions of these systems, as well as fringing mangrove systems. Using a combination of visual observations, x-radiography of the cores and physical sedimentology of the sediment within the cores, the storm layer stratigraphy will be assessed. In addition, sediment samples will be analyzed for Total Mercury and POP’s. Using ArcGIS, a series of maps will be generated showing the thickness of the storm layer, the mean grain size of the associated sediment, and the contaminant loads for each of the respective contaminants assessed.

date/time interval

  • 2022 - 2023