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Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23 – 41 Lake-based magnetic mapping of
Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23 – 41 Lake-based magnetic mapping of

Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23 – 41

Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23 – 41 Lake-based magnetic mapping of

Lake-based magnetic mapping of contaminated sediment distribution, Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario, Canada

M.R. Pozza, J.I. Boyce * , W.A. Morris

School of Geography and Geology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Received 16 October 2003; accepted 20 August 2004


The remediation of toxic sediment in harbours and urban waterways requires detailed mapping of contaminated sediment distribution and thickness. Conventional methods rely on interpolation of pollutant concentrations from widely spaced core samples but can lead to significant errors in estimating sediment distribution. An improved approach, as demonstrated by recent work in Hamilton Harbour in Lake Ontario, is to estimate pollutant levels from proxy measurements of sediment magnetic properties. Measurements from 40 core samples collected within the harbour show that the magnetic susceptibility of a contaminated upper layer of sediment is one to two orders of magnitude greater than in the underlying uncontaminated d pre- colonial T sediments. The susceptibility contrast results from elevated levels of urban-source magnetic oxides and is sufficient to generate a total field anomaly (ca. 5–40 nT) that can be measured with a towed magnetometer. Systematic lake-based magnetic surveying ( N 500 line km) of the harbour using an Overhauser marine magnetometer identifies well-defined positive magnetic anomalies that coincide with mapped accumulations of contaminated sediments on the harbour bottom. Forward modelling of the anomalies shows that the magnetic response is consistent with a contaminated upper layer thickness of up to 5 m. Apparent susceptibility maps calculated from magnetic survey data show a close spatial correspondence with core-derived magnetic susceptibilities and provide a rapid means for classifying contaminated sediments. Detection of shallow magnetic anomalies is dependent upon a closely spaced survey grid ( b 75 m line spacing) and careful post-cruise processing to remove diurnal, regional and water-depth related variations in the magnetic field intensity. D 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Environmental magnetism; Contaminated sediment; Magnetic susceptibility

1. Introduction

The remediation of contaminated sediments in urban waterways and coastlines is now recognized

* Corresponding author. Fax: +1 905 546 0463. E-mail address: (J.I. Boyce).

0926-9851/$ - see front matter D 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


as a major environmental priority ( US-EPA, 1998 ). A major requirement before remediation work can begin is that areas of contaminated sediment be adequately characterized in terms of their areal distribution, thickness and pollutant levels ( NRC, 1997 ). Conven- tionally, this is carried out on small-scale projects by chemical and physical property analysis on a limited


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number of core samples. These are typically acquired on a grid pattern and interpolated to produce maps of sediment thickness and pollutant concentrations. In the case of large contaminated sites, interpolation between widely spaced core locations can be unreli- able and often leads to errors in estimating contam- inant distribution and sediment volumes ( Versteeg et al., 1997; Boyce et al., 2001 ). A simple solution would be to increase the core-sampling density, but in practice this is often too expensive and impractical for mapping large contaminated sites. An alternative approach is to use geophysical measurements of sediment physical properties to assist in estimating sediment pollutant levels. Several recent studies have investigated the use of acoustical, electrical and magnetic property measurements for classifying and mapping contaminated sediments in lakes and rivers. Guigne et al. (1991) demonstrated the advantages of parametric acoustic arrays for mapping thin contaminated sediment layers and Caufield and Filkins (1999) developed a system for classifying pollutant levels by comparing acoustic adsorption (bottom loss) in clean versus contaminated sediments. Other work has focussed on acoustic classification of bottom sediment texture and other properties (i.e. density, mineralogy) that have a direct influence on contaminant sorption in sediments ( Chivers et al., 1990; Leblanc et al., 1992; Rukavina, 1997, 2001 ). A major drawback of acoustic methods is that they are often unsuccessful where there is significant bottom vegetation, or where the presence of gasified sedi- ments limits acoustic penetration. These problems led the US-EPA to suspend further testing of acoustic methods for contaminant studies following an exten- sive 4-year trial ( US-EPA, 1998 ). Marine resistivity surveys employing multi-element arrays show promise as a method for classifying bottom sediment type ( Manheim et al., 2002 ), but their ability to detect the presence of contaminant phases in marine sediments has not been demonstrated. Magnetic property measurements provide a further alternative to conventional analytical methods and have gained increasing use in soil contamination mapping and atmospheric pollution studies. Initial work by Locke and Bertine (1986) and Beckwith et al. (1986) identified elevated levels of magnetic oxides in soils and linked them to magnetic particles in airborne pollution. Several subsequent studies confirmed these

findings and showed a direct correlation between the magnetic susceptibility (ease of magnetization) of contaminated soils and the presence of hydrocarbons, heavy metals and other combustion-related pollutants ( Flanders, 1991; Morris et al., 1995; Kapicka et al., 1999; Petrovsky and Ellwood, 1999 ). A positive correlation between contaminant concentrations and magnetic oxides has also been identified in lake and marine sediments. Morris et al. (1994) and Versteeg et al. (1995, 1997) analysed magnetic properties in core samples from Hamilton Harbour in western Lake Ontario ( Fig. 1 ) and were able to map the thickness of a highly magnetized layer of contaminated sediment across the harbour. Their results show that concen- trations of hydrocarbons and certain heavy metals (Pb, Zn, Fe) are closely tied to magnetic oxide content. Mayer et al. (1996) found a similar relationship in their analysis of suspended sediments in the harbour, and showed that susceptibility and contaminant levels were unaltered by post-depositional processes. Chan et al. (1997) conducted a study of contaminated sediments in Hong Kong harbour and found that metal concen- trations in sediments were directly correlated with sediment magnetic susceptibility. They advocated the use of magnetic properties as a rapid and inexpensive method for mapping contaminated sediments. While magnetic susceptibility provides a rapid and reliable method for assessing contaminant levels in sediments, it suffers from some drawbacks. Firstly, it requires the collection of physical core samples and, secondly, it provides point measurements that must be interpolated to produce maps of contaminated sedi- ment distribution. An improved approach, as de- scribed in this paper, is to combine core-based magnetic property analysis with remote measurements of sediment magnetic response using a magnetometer towed above the lake bottom. The primary advantage of a magnetic survey is that large areas can be mapped rapidly and with a high density of magnetic measure- ments. Here we report on the application of high- resolution magnetic surveying to mapping contami- nated sediment distribution in heavily industrialized Hamilton Harbour, in western Lake Ontario ( Fig. 1 ). The results of systematic magnetic mapping of the harbour are evaluated by comparison with the previous contaminant mapping of Versteeg et al. (1995) . This shows that total field magnetic anomalies are spatially correlated with known accumulations of

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et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41 25 Fig. 1. Hamilton Harbour study

Fig. 1. Hamilton Harbour study area showing generalized land use and locations of major sediment and contaminant input sources.

contaminated sediment and that these can be mapped at a much higher resolution than previously achieved with core data alone. While it is unlikely that magnetic surveys will replace conventional core data, they provide an efficient and complimentary method for reconnaissance-scale mapping of large areas of sediment contamination. The accumulation of toxic sediments is a common problem in many urbanized waterways and the methods and results reported here have broader applications to remediation of other contaminated sites.

2. Study area

Hamilton Harbour is a 22-km 2 embayment located at the western end of Lake Ontario ( Fig. 1 ). The basin is separated from Lake Ontario in the east by a barrier beach and has a maximum water depth of about 24 m. The harbour drains a large urbanized watershed area that includes the cities of Hamilton and Burlington, with a population of about 800,000 residents. The bottom sediments in

the harbour are heavily contaminated by the direct discharge of untreated urban and industrial effluents during the last century. The contaminants of most concern include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), heavy metals, phenols and a range of other toxins ( Poulton, 1987; Mayer and Nagy, 1992 ). The primary pollution sources are discharges from four sewage treatment plants, steel-making operations and other heavy industries situated on the south shore of the harbour ( Fig. 1 ). The steel mills are a primary contributor of PAH and heavy metals to the harbour through atmospheric loadings and the discharge of more than 2 10 6 m 3 day 1 of process water used in contact cooling ( Morris et al., 1994 ). The harbour also receives large volumes of untreated runoff from the urbanized areas of the watershed during storm overflow events ( Poulton et al., 1996 ) ( Fig. 1 ). The basin water quality is moderated to some extent by direct exchange with Lake Ontario, via a single connecting channel at the eastern end of the harbour (the Burlington Canal; Fig. 1 ).


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Due to the presence of toxic levels of contaminants in the harbour sediments and other impacts (eutro- phication, toxic organics in fish, poor aesthetics), the harbour has been designated as one of the most contaminated water bodies in the Great Lakes ( IJC, 1985 ). A remedial action plan is being implemented to clean-up and restore the most heavily impacted areas of the basin ( RAP, 1991 ); central to the remediation efforts is the need for detailed mapping of the distribution and volume of contaminated sediments.

3. Previous magnetic property work

A key factor in the selection of Hamilton Harbour as a test site for this study was the availability of a large sediment core and magnetic property database ( Fig. 2 ). More than 40 core samples have been collected and analyzed during several previous studies of contaminant distribution in the harbour ( Morris et al., 1994; Versteeg et al., 1995, 1997 ). Fig. 2 A shows a typical magnetic susceptibility ( j ) profile from a 1.3-m long core collected in Hamilton Harbour. The approximate sediment ages are also shown based on 210 Pb dates ( Turner, 1994 ). The onset of industrializa- tion in the harbour in the 1890s is recorded by a rapid increase in j at a depth of approximately 60 cm. This horizon marks the base of the dpost-colonial T sediment layer and provides a useful marker horizon for estimating the thickness of contaminated fill within the harbour. The profile reaches a peak j value in the late 1970s of about 2 10 4 cgs ( Fig. 2 A). For comparison, this is roughly equivalent to the suscept- ibility of basalt and represents more than an order of magnitude increase above the background suscepti- bility of the natural harbour sediment. Morris et al. (1994) attributed this increase to the presence of magnetite spherules produced by oxidation of pyrite during steel plant coking operations. Other magnetic phases were also found in the bottom sediment (e.g. greigite, hematite) but their contribution to the induced and remanent magnetic components was minor. Comparisons of the contaminant levels and mag- netic properties of Hamilton Harbour cores showed that levels of PAH and certain heavy metals (Pb, Zn, Fe) are strongly positively correlated with sediment magnetic susceptibility ( Morris et al., 1994 ). The

levels of these contaminants are closely tied to magnetic oxide content (i.e. flyash) because they are products of the same combustion processes (e.g. Petrovsky and Ellwood, 1999 ). Versteeg et al. (1997) investigated the use of magnetic susceptibility as a proxy for estimating PAH levels in lake sediment and were able to map the distribution of the contaminated sediment layer across the harbour by interpolating core j data for various depth horizons ( Fig. 2 B). Their maps identify a distinct magnetic susceptibility anom- aly along the southeast shore of the harbour that is related to discharges from nearby steel mills and urban effluents from the city of Hamilton. The maximum j anomaly on the south shore identifies the thickest accumulation of contaminated sediments in the basin ( N 6 m, Randle Reef) and is associated with toxic levels of PAH and heavy metals ( Murphy et al., 1990 ) ( Fig. 2 B). Other zones of contamination are indicated by high magnetic susceptibilities adjacent to the steel works dockyards and at the mouth of Windermere Basin, which is the receiving water for Hamilton’s main sewage treatment plant ( Fig. 2 B). A primary objective of the present study was to evaluate whether a total field magnetic survey would be capable of detecting magnetic susceptibility contrasts within the harbour bottom sediments.

4. Rationale and methods

The motivation for applying a total magnetic field survey in this study is the large contrast in magnetic susceptibility between contaminated and clean sedi- ments in the harbour ( N 10–10 2 cgs; Fig. 2 ). A magnetometer towed above the harbour bottom will respond primarily to near-field variations in the bottom sediment magnetic susceptibility, provided that the underlying deeper sediments and bedrock have low levels of magnetization ( Boyce et al., 2001 ). The total field or magnetic flux density (B-field) is directly proportional to magnetic susceptibility j as ( Telford and Sheriff, 1991 ):

B ¼ H þ 4 p M ¼ ð 1 þ 4 pjÞ H

ð1 : 1 Þ

where H =field strength (Oersteds), M =intensity of magnetization (Oersteds) and j =magnetic suscepti- bility (emu cgs).

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et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41 27 Fig. 2. (A) Magnetic susceptibility

Fig. 2. (A) Magnetic susceptibility (j ) versus depth in bottom sediment core sample. Approximate sediment ages based on 210 Pb dating (from Turner, 1994). (B) Bottom sediment magnetic susceptibility ( j ) interpolated from 37 core samples at 10-cm depth intervals (after Versteeg et al.,



M.R. Pozza et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41

Thus, while magnetic flux density B is the parameter measured, information is also obtained indirectly about variations in bottom sediment sus- ceptibility. The effect is exploited widely in land- based magnetometry for mapping near-surface mag- netic anomalies in archaeological and environmental investigations ( Breiner, 1973 ). The remanent component of magnetization in soils and surficial sediments is often also significant ( Morris et al., 1994 ) but cannot be obtained from total field measurements. However, if the remanence is small or negligible in comparison to induced magnetization, the apparent magnetic susceptibility j a can be estimated using a geometrical model that approximates the magnetic source bodies as a series of square-ended prisms ( Bhattacharyya, 1964; Talwani, 1965 ). j a is obtained using the following compound filter:

j a ðr ; hÞ¼


2 p FH ð r ÞCðhÞ S ð r ; hÞ


1 : 2 Þ

where H ( r )=e hr is a downward continuation operator

( Telford and cos( D h )]

represents reduction to the pole, S ( r , h )=

is a geometric factor for a square-

ended prism (Spector and Grant, 1970), r =wave- number in radians/ground units, h =wavenumber angle, I =geomagnetic inclination, I a = pole reduction amplitude inclination, D =geomagnetic declination, F =total geomagnetic field strength in nT, a =half the grid-cell size and h= depth in ground units, relative to the observation level at which to calculate the susceptibility. The filter operator downward continues to a specified source depth, corrects for the geometric effect of a vertical square-ended prism, and divides by the total magnetic field F, to yield apparent susceptibility (cgs units). The model requires that the International Geomagnetic Reference Field (IGRF) has been removed and that the magnetization is parallel to the Earth’s field direction (induced magnetization). The apparent susceptibility parameter is employed in this study for comparison of survey results with core-based j measurements ( Fig. 2 A) and as a means of classifying sediment contaminant impact levels (see below). Because the sediment

Sheriff, 1991 ), C ( h )=[sin I a + i cos I d


sin ðar cos hÞ sinð ar sin hÞ ar cos h ar sin h

remanence cannot be determined directly from field data, the apparent susceptibility values may be overestimated and must be regarded as qualitative indicator of actual bottom sediment magnetic susceptibility.

4.1. Magnetic survey parameters

A total of 500 line km of magnetic and bathymetric data were collected within the harbour over a 5-day period. The magnetic surveys were acquired using an Overhauser marine magnetometer towed behind a 6-m survey boat. The Overhauser magnetometer (Marine Magnetics SeaSPY) has the advantages of high sensitivity (0.01 nT/ M Hz) and is an omnidirectional sensor, free of heading errors and dead zones that complicate the use of optically pumped magnetometers. The magnetometer was towed at a distance of 30 m behind the survey boat

at a depth of b 1 m. Survey positioning was provided by an onboard differential-GPS and navigational chart plotting system with a horizontal positioning error of less than 3 m. Digital bathymetry data were acquired simultaneously with magnetics using a 200- kHz echo sounder system. The bathymetry data were critical for later correction of depth-related variations in the magnetic field strength and also aided in interpretation of the magnetic data. The survey was acquired along southeast–north- west oriented lines with a nominal spacing of 65 m and orthogonal tie lines at 200 m ( Fig. 3 ). Two higher-resolution surveys (50 m line spacing) were also conducted over Randle Reef and a zone of previous dredging on the eastern margin of the harbour (Fig. 3 ). All data were acquired with 4 Hz sampling, which provided an in-line sample spacing of less than 1 m at typical survey speeds of 10–15 km/h. Prior to the start of each survey, a base station magnetometer was deployed in a magnetically quiet area adjacent to the harbour to record diurnal field variations.

4.2. Signal processing

Several processing steps were applied to the magnetic total field data to obtain a residual magnetic map that emphasizes the contributions from shallow magnetic sources. The general processing

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et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41 29 Fig. 3. Magnetic survey track

Fig. 3. Magnetic survey track lines (ca. 500 line km). Windowed areas show locations of detailed magnetic surveys (nominal 50 m line spacings) conducted on Randle Reef and zone of dredging in eastern harbour.

flow ( Table 1 ) included editing of line data, base station corrections to remove diurnal field variations and a lag correction to account for the magnetometer lay back behind the boat. The remaining residual errors were removed using tie-line levelling. The levelled line data were then gridded using a minimum curvature algorithm ( Briggs, 1974 ) with a grid cell size of 10 or 25 m. The gridded data were micro- leveled to remove any remaining uncompensated levelling errors ( Minty, 1991 ). Correction for varia- tions in magnetic field strength related to changes in water depth were performed using the chessboard technique of Cordell (1985) . The routine employs a Fourier domain upward and/or downward continu- ation of the magnetic grid to a series of parallel surfaces on the bathymetry grid. The magnetic field between the new surfaces is then interpolated to produce a new grid at a constant observation height above the sediment/water interface. For this study, an observation height of 15 m was chosen as a suitable

level to maintain sufficient high frequency content, while minimising the use of the downward continu- ation operator on the grid to avoid potential aliasing and noise enhancement ( Reid, 1980 ). The near-surface magnetic signal was then enhanced by performing a regional-residual separation (Cowan and Cowan, 1993; Hearst and Morris, 2001 ). This involves subtraction of an upward continued grid (50 m) from the total field to obtain a residual magnetic field map that is enhanced in short spatial wavelengths. As a final step to aid in interpretation, the data were reduced to the magnetic pole. The fully corrected magnetic residual maps are shown in (Figs. 4B, 5B and 7B) . Areas of high magnetic intensity (hot colours) identify more magnetite-rich sediments, while areas of lower magnetic intensity (cool colours) indicate less magnetized bottom sediments. The processing of bathymetric data involved tie- line leveling and spline smoothing of profile data. As a final step, the profile data were gridded using


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Table 1 Processing steps employed in processing of magnetic survey data

Processing step


1. Base-station correction Correction for diurnal magnetic variation

2. Lag correction

Corrects for magnetometer layback from DGPS antenna

Removal of large amplitude spikes and areas of extreme magnetic gradient

Removal of systematic cross-line error

Interpolation using minimum curvature algorithm

Removal of remaining uncompensated cross-line error

Correction for water depth variations of the magnetic field

Correction for inclination and declination of the geomagnetic field

Removal of magnetic field associated with deep magnetic sources

3. Manual editing

4. Tie-line leveling

5. Gridding

6. Micro-leveling

7. Drape-correction

8. Reduction to pole

9. Regional-residual


minimum curvature with a 10 m or 25 m grid cell size.

5. Results

5.1. Bathymetry

The gridded echosounder data provide a high- resolution image of water depth variations across the harbour ( Fig. 4 A). The water depth reaches a maximum of over 24 m within a deep central basin and is less than 15 m across the rest of the harbour. A second area of deep water in the southeast corner of the harbour is an area of bottom dredging ( Fig. 4 A). More than 10 m of sediment was excavated from this area as part of land reclamation activities conducted between 1968 and 1978. The bathymetry map also reveals a distinct meandering feature on the harbour bottom ( Fig. 4 A) that is interpreted as a submerged and partially infilled river valley ( Boyce et al., 2001 ). The submerged channel records the existence of a

flood plain that formed during an earlier phase of lower lake levels in Lake Ontario (ca. 30 m) at about 6000 YBP ( Anderson and Lewis, 1987 ). The adjacent mound-like Randle Reef marks the location of a thick accumulation ( N 5 m) of heavily contaminated sedi- ment and has been a major focus of recent remediation efforts within the harbour ( Poulton, 1987; Murphy et al., 1990; Morris et al., 1994 ).

5.2. Magnetics

The results of the magnetic survey work are shown in the residual magnetic map in Fig. 4 B. The residual magnetic map was created by subtraction of a 50-m upward continuation of the total field data and thus represents the shallow magnetic response of the sediments infilling the harbour basin. Although the regional field has been removed, the magnetic variation across the harbour is still considerable ( N 160 nT), as a result of the high contrast in the bottom sediment susceptibility. The Randle Reef and industrialized southern shore of the harbour stand out as zones of highest magnetic intensity, with a residual field anomaly N 100 nT above the central basin area. Positive magnetic anomalies are also associated with the dredge basin in the eastern harbour and the north shore of the harbour ( Fig. 4 A). The magnetic anomalies can be interpreted by comparison with the core-derived magnetic suscept- ibility maps of Versteeg et al. (1997) (Fig. 2 B). It should be noted that the core-derived susceptibility maps are smoother surfaces because they are based on only 40 points and are gridded at a much larger cell size (100 m) than the residual magnetic map. Comparison of the two datasets reveals that areas of high bottom sediment susceptibility are related to areas of high magnetic intensity on the residual field map ( Figs. 2 B and 4 A). The broad band of high magnetic susceptibility that extends from Randle Reef to the dredge basin (30–40 and 40–50 cm depth interval, Fig. 2 B) is spatially coincident with a corresponding magnetic residual field anomaly. The residual magnetic field map, because of the higher

Fig. 4. (A) Colour-shaded bathymetry map of harbour (illuminated from northwest). Rectangular excavation in southeast is an area of bottom dredging. Meandering feature is a drowned river valley that existed during a period of lower lake level (ca. 6000 YBP)(Boyce et al., 2001). (B) Residual magnetic field map of harbour. Numbers identify magnetic anomalies discussed in text: (1) Randle Reef, (2) dredged basin, (3) steel works outfall, (4) north shore anomaly, (5) central basin anomaly, (6) northeast magnetic low, (7) basin axis anomaly.

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M.R. Pozza et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41 31


M.R. Pozza et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41

et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41 Fig. 5. (A) Bathymetry map of

Fig. 5. (A) Bathymetry map of Randle Reef survey area. Line A–B indicates location of forward modelled profiles in Fig. 6. (B) Magnetic residual map of same area (50 m line spacings). Note high magnetic intensity of sediments in submerged meander channels, indicating down slope movement of sediment from Randle Reef. Point magnetic targets are from ferrous refuse on the harbour bottom.

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sampling density, shows clearly that this broad zone is in fact three separate anomalies corresponding with the Randle Reef, the steel works outfall and the dredge basin (anomalies 1, 2 and 3; Fig. 4 B). The positive anomaly at the steel works outfall has a plume-like appearance and likely reflects the transport and dispersal of Fe-oxide rich sediments from the discharge point on the shoreline. The Randle Reef and dredged basin were surveyed at high resolution and are discussed in further detail below. The residual map also identifies several smaller magnetic anomalies on the north shore of the harbour that include a known area of bottom sediment contamination (anomaly 4, Fig. 4 B). Poulton (1987) mapped the concentration of toxic organics in the harbour sediments and found anomalously high con- centrations along the north shore. An area of increased magnetic intensity in the deep central basin of the harbour identifies a further possible area of contami- nated sediment accumulation (anomaly 5, Fig. 4 B). Areas of relatively low magnetic intensity, such as the northeast and western parts of the harbour (anomaly 6, Fig. 4 B) indicate areas of low magnetic susceptibility sediments. Versteeg et al. (1997) noted these lows in their susceptibility mapping and attributed them to areas of clean sandy bottom sediments. Other distinctive features in the residual field map include a broad (ca. 200 m) linear magnetic anomaly trending along the axis of the harbour (anomaly 7, Fig. 4 B). The anomaly parallels the direction of the tie-lines but is not attributable to levelling error since it is clearly visible in the north–south line data. The origin of the anomaly is enigmatic, but it likely records thickening of Quaternary sediments within a deep bedrock valley that underlies the western end of the harbour (buried Dundas Valley). A recent syn- thesis of seismic and available borehole data show that the bedrock valley is more than 150 m deep in the Hamilton area, and is structurally controlled by a system of west–east trending faults in the underlying Paleozoic-age bedrock ( Edgecombe et al., 1998; Boyce et al., 2002 ). The linearity of the magnetic anomaly has been interpreted as evidence for a fault- bounded basin below the harbour ( Boyce et al., 2002 ).

5.2.1. Randle Reef high-resolution survey Fig. 5 shows the results of a detailed survey of the Randle Reef acquired with a 50-m nominal line

spacing. The close line spacing greatly enhances the bathymetric and magnetic boundaries defining the reef and the adjacent meander channel. The reef is defined by a mound-like rise in the bottom top- ography and a corresponding area of high magnetic intensity ( N 40 nT) and rugged magnetic relief on the residual magnetic map (Fig. 5 B). The presence of several ferrous objects on the bottom (metal scrap) is indicated by small dipole anomalies. The magnetic intensity decreases rapidly to the north of the reef and is consistent with the pattern of declining magnetic susceptibility that is evident in the core-based map- ping ( Fig. 2 B). This pattern can be interpreted as a basin-ward thinning of an uppermost layer of con- taminated sediment away from the primary sediment accumulation area at Randle Reef ( Versteeg et al., 1995, 1997 ). The thinning of the contaminated layer is also evident in the pattern of magnetic intensity within the adjacent meander channel ( Fig. 5 B). The segment of the channel closest to the reef shows high magnetic intensities, while sections of the meander further out from the reef in deeper water show progressively lower values. It is also noted that the meander channel is defined by a positive magnetic anomaly when compared to the central basin floor. This is intuitively the reverse of what is expected for a topographic depression (channel) on the harbour bottom, since the fall-off in amplitude with distance from the source should result in a relative magnetic low. The positive anomaly indicates that the meander channel is partially infilled with a layer of relatively high susceptibility sediment. The likely source of the sediment is the downslope movement of sediment from the adjacent Randle Reef. Brassard and Morris (1997) and showed that sediment resuspension by waves was an important process in moving sediment into the deeper parts of the basin. The magnetic response of the meander channel (Fig. 5 B) provides further evidence that the total field survey is responding to a shallow layer of high magnetic susceptibility sediment. In order to verify this result, and to constrain the probable thickness of the contaminated layer, 2-D forward models were constructed for a west–east profile across the western edge of Randle Reef ( Fig. 6 ). The models were constructed using a proprietary modelling package (GM-SYS k) which implements the Talwani polygon


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34 M.R. Pozza et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41

M.R. Pozza et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41


method to calculate the magnetic response of source bodies of various geometries ( Talwani, 1965; Won and Bevis, 1987 ). The models were constructed by extraction of the bathymetric and residual field values along a single transect across Randle Reef and the average j values assigned based on the core data of Versteeg et al. (1997) ( Fig. 2 B). The magnetic residual field data used in the model were not drape corrected so that the effects of water depth variation across the reef could be evaluated. Fig. 6 shows the model results for two different scenarios: (A) a single layer of homogeneous sediment with j =5 10 5 cgs and (B) a two-layer case with an upper layer of high susceptibility sediment ( j =5 10 4 cgs) overlying a low susceptibility (pre-colonial) sedi- ment layer ( j =1 10 5 cgs). The single layer case demonstrates the magnetic response for a constant j , in which the resultant magnetic anomaly is due solely to changes in bottom relief and water depth ( Fig. 6 A). The calculated response shows clearly that the magnetic field strength mimics the bottom relief, with bathy- metric lows (i.e. the meander channels) corresponding with relative magnetic lows. Comparison of the calculated with the observed residual field, however, shows that two are anti-correlated and that the observed magnetic profile cannot be explained by water depth variations as in this simple model ( Fig. 6 A). The maximum variation in the calculated magnetic intensity due to water depth changes is about 28 nT ( Fig. 6 A) and serves to illustrate the importance of draping corrections in high-resolution marine magnetic surveys. In the two-layer case ( Fig. 6 B), the magnetic susceptibility of the upper layer was set as constant, equal to the average j value obtained from core data ( j =5 x =10 4 cgs). The thickness of the upper layer was then varied along the profile until the calculated residual field closely matched the observed signal with a small residual error ( b 4 nT). The result shows that the observed response is consistent with the presence of an upper layer of relatively high susceptibility sediment that thickens within topographic lows and

thins across the basin highs. The estimated maximum layer thickness within the meander channels is about 5 m, which is comparable to the estimated maximum depth of contaminated fill within the Randle Reef area (N 6 m) ( Versteeg et al., 1997 ). The depth of contami- nated sediment here reflects the extended history and large volume of discharge of industrial and urban effluents into this part of the harbour. The estimated thickness of the sediment layer obtained through 2-D modelling ( Fig. 6 B) can only be considered as an estimate, as the model assumes layers with a constant magnetic susceptibility. In reality, the magnetic susceptibility varies laterally and also from the bottom to the top of the contaminated layer as shown in the core data in Fig. 2 A. Several model runs were attempted with higher and lower bulk magnetic susceptibility values for the upper and lower layers. These runs resulted in a thicker or thinner contaminated layer but in all cases, the model showed thickening of the infill within the bathymetric lows as in Fig. 6 B. The constant susceptibility model shown in Fig. 6 B best replicates the available core data and is considered to be reasonable estimate of the upper layer thickness along the profile. Most importantly, the model results indicate that the magnetic variations across the reef cannot be simply the result of changes in water depth (i.e. Fig. 6 A) but require the presence of a highly magnetized upper sediment layer.

5.2.2. Dredge basin high-resolution survey The results of the detailed survey of the dredge basin are shown in Fig. 7 . The deep rectangular basin (ca. 1000 600 m) is the result of systematic dredging of an average of 10 m of sediment from the harbour bottom. The basin has a rugged bottom topography (8–23 m below lake level) made up of linear ridges and excavated troughs that are oriented in the direction of dredging to the northeast. The centre of the basin is crossed by a prominent ridge of sediment that rises more than 10 m above the excavated areas ( Fig. 7 A). The sediment ridge stands

Fig. 6. 2-D forward modelled magnetic profiles across western edge of Randle Reef and submerged meander channel (location shown in Fig. 5B). The observed residual magnetic profiles were not drape corrected to allow evaluation of effects of water depth changes. (A) Single-layer case of sediments with uniform j =5 10 5 (no upper contaminated layer). (B) Modelled profile for case of upper layer of more magnetized urban-sourced sediment (j =5 10 4 cgs) overlying lower susceptibility pre-colonial sediments (j =1 10 5 ). Depth of lower layer extends to 100 m in both cases (not shown).


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et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41 Fig. 7. (A) High-resolution bathymetry map

Fig. 7. (A) High-resolution bathymetry map for dredged basin. (B) Magnetic residual field maps for same area. Magnetic lows correspond with dredged areas and ridge-like magnetic highs with unexcavated ridges of contaminated sediment. Point magnetic targets indicate the location of ferrous refuse.

out clearly as a sinuous magnetic high on the magnetic residual map, while the surrounding dredged areas correspond with lower magnetic intensities ( Fig. 7 B). The magnetic contrast between the ridge and the excavated area is substantial (up to 30 nT) and cannot be attributed to changes in water depth, since these have been compensated with drape corrections during processing. The measurements from a single core taken at the eastern edge of the magnetic high show high susceptibility values ( N 2 10 4 cgs, Fig. 2 B) and identify the ridge as a mound of contaminant- impacted sediment ( Versteeg et al., 1997 ). The sedi- ment ridge was apparently left intact during dredging operations. The lower magnetic intensity of excavated areas thus reflects the removal of the more magnetized upper sediment layer. It is also noted that the magnetic

high defining the ridge is much broader than its corresponding bathymetric ridge (Fig. 7 A,B); this may indicate a dispersion effect, whereby ridge sediments are being eroded and transported into the deeper excavated areas by bottom currents ( Brassard and Morris, 1997 ) or by slumping of steep side slopes. The site is of interest from a sediment remediation standpoint, because it demonstrates that magnetic surveying together with detailed bathymetric mapping can be used as a tool to monitor the progress and effectiveness of dredging activities.

6. Apparent susceptibility mapping

As a further aid to evaluating the magnetic survey results, the apparent magnetic susceptibility j a was

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et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41 37 Fig. 8. (A) Apparent susceptibility

Fig. 8. (A) Apparent susceptibility map calculated from the IGRF-corrected total field data. Susceptibility data are draped on sun-shaded bathymetric surface from Fig. 4A. (B) Qualitative sediment classification map showing relative contaminant impact levels across harbour. Sediment impact levels defined on basis of core data from Randle Reef (Versteeg et al., 1997).


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calculated from the total field data using Eq. (1.2) ( Fig. 8 A). As noted above, the apparent susceptibility

design a core sampling strategy during the reconnais- sance phases of mapping a contaminated waterway.

filter does not take into consideration the sediment magnetic remanence and is used here only as a qualitative estimator of the spatial variations in bottom sediment magnetization and pollutant impacts. The range of the calculated apparent susceptibilities (10 6

7. Discussion


5 10 4 cgs, Fig. 8 A) is comparable with the core

This study shows that strong contrasts in magnetic susceptibility associated with the presence of urban-

susceptibility values and shows good spatial corre- spondence with the previously mapped j distribution ( Fig. 2 B). As with the residual field map, the localized

source magnetic oxides in lake sediment may be detected using a towed marine magnetometer. System- atic magnetic mapping of Hamilton Harbour identifies

detail is much enhanced due to the much greater spatial sampling resolution of the j a map. The contaminated areas at Randle Reef, the steel works outfall and the dredged basin are all clearly identified as areas of high magnetic susceptibility ( N 2 10 4 cgs). The map also indicates several localized areas of elevated j a values and areas of possible bottom contamination along the north shore of the harbour and within the central deep part of the harbour basin. A further potential application of the apparent susceptibility map is that it can be used as a rapid means for qualitatively classifying the relative con- taminant impact levels in bottom sediments. For example, by establishing a d background T threshold level for the magnetic susceptibility of uncontami- nated sediments (i.e. based on core data; Fig. 2 A), it is possible to use the magnetic survey results to classify contaminated areas. The core data of Versteeg et al. (1997) indicate a background value of b 10 5 cgs is typical for uncontaminated pre-colonial sediments within the harbour ( Fig. 2 A). Fig. 8 B is based on a simple classification scheme that identifies areas of low ( N 1 10 5 –5 10 5 cgs), moderate ( N 5 10 5 – 1 10 4 cgs) and high contaminant impact levels ( N 1 10 4 cgs). The moderate and high impact classes were defined with reference to the core susceptibility data from Randle Reef, the most heavily contaminated site in the harbour. The exercise shows that a large area of the harbour ( N 60%) is significantly above the background threshold and more than 30% of the bottom sediments have probable contaminant impacts

a number of positive magnetic anomalies on the harbour bottom that can be related to discrete point source inputs of urban and industrial effluents identified in previous coring work ( Morris et al., 1994; Versteeg et al., 1995, 1997 ). Comparison of survey data with core-derived magnetic susceptibility maps and the results of forward modelling indicate that the positive anomalies are generated by a thin upper layer of high susceptibility contaminated sedi- ment. The calculated apparent susceptibility ( Fig. 8 A) and the core-derived susceptibility maps ( Fig. 2 A) show similar magnetic anomaly pattern, which can be attributed to changes in the thickness of the contami- nated layer across the harbour. These results indicate that marine magnetic surveys are a viable and complimentary approach to core-based geochemical sampling in situations where there is a need to map large basins for reconnaissance purposes. The major advantage over core-based methods is the increased sampling density that can be achieved when the survey is acquired as a grid-work of closely spaced survey lines that systematically cover the lake bottom (Fig. 3 ). In this study, we conducted surveys with line spacings as small as 50 m and a magneto- meter sampling rate of 4 Hz. This yields approx- imately one measurement every metre in the inline direction at boat speeds of ~15 km/h. The high density of data obtained allows for greatly enhanced spatial resolution and recording of magnetic anomalies with inline spatial frequencies as small as 2 m. This translates into highly detailed images of bottom


the moderate or severe levels. Although the scheme

sediment magnetic response (e.g. Figs. 5 and 7 ) that


qualitative and is not intended be used to predict

can be used to map the post-industrial sediment

actual pollutant concentrations, it serves to demon- strate that magnetic survey data can be used as a basis for classifying probable sediment impact levels. Such

distribution. A further advantage is that magnetic surveying is non-invasive and avoids sediment dis- turbance and the resuspension of contaminants. The


classification could be employed for example, to

application of magnetic survey methods during the

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initial stages of a remediation program could also significantly reduce the total costs of a clean up program by focussing efforts on the most heavily impacted areas (e.g. Fig. 8 B), thereby reducing the total number of boreholes required. In the case of Hamilton Harbour, which was chosen primarily as a test case in this study, the distribution of contaminated sediment has been reasonably well characterized based on previous coring work. The magnetic map- ping in this study serves to verify previous work and also provides much higher resolution images of the spatial distribution of urban sediments within the harbour. It should also be emphasized that while Hamilton Harbour is relatively well understood, significantly less is known about contaminated sedi- ment distribution in the other areas of concern within the Great Lakes basins. The detection of shallow-sourced magnetic anoma- lies is dependent upon collection of closely spaced survey lines ( Fig. 3 ) and careful post-cruise process- ing to remove diurnal and other systematic errors. Simultaneous collection of high resolution bathymetry data is also critical for removal of water depth-related variations in the magnetic field intensity that would otherwise mask subtle magnetic anomaly patterns. The high-resolution bathymetry data also aids in the interpretation of contaminated sediment accumulation patterns. Figs. 5 and 7 demonstrate that bathymetric lows are commonly areas of contaminated sediment accumulation in Hamilton Harbour, most likely as a result of the down gradient transport of sediment by wave resuspension and bottom currents ( Brassard and Morris, 1997 ). Other areas of contaminated sediment are associated with positive bathymetric features such as mounds and ridges formed at the effluent discharge points into the harbour (e.g. Randle Reef, steel works outfall; Fig. 5 B) or where bottom dredging has taken place ( Fig. 7 B).

7.1. Limitations of method

A primary limitation of all magnetic proxy methods is that they cannot directly determine the actual pollutant concentrations in sediment. It is unlikely, therefore, that magnetic surveying will replace conventional geochemical analysis, but it does offer an effective and rapid approach for reconnaissance mapping of large contaminated water-

ways. Magnetic surveys could be employed, for example, during the early stages of remediation to map the location of impacted bottom sediments prior to detailed coring and geochemical sampling. This in turn would increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of remediation activities by allowing sampling efforts to be focussed on the impacted areas. Another important limitation is that the method is only applicable in areas where the natural (pre- colonial) bottom sediments have a low magnetite content and low magnetic susceptibilities when compared to urban-sourced sediments. The method is likely to be unsuccessful, for example, in Precam- brian shield areas where high susceptibility crystalline bedrock is at or near the surface. Under these conditions, the measured magnetic field strength will be dominated by the bedrock response. Areas that have favourable geology for shallow magnetic map- ping include much of the lower Great Lakes basins and other continental and coastal areas that are underlain by a substantial thickness of low suscept- ibility sedimentary cover rocks. Even in these areas, an understanding of the availability and distribution of naturally occurring magnetic minerals in sediments is critical for interpreting the magnetic survey results. This requires that some core data will need to be collected prior to the survey, to allow determination of the contrast in susceptibilities of natural and urban sediments. Areas of extreme magnetic gradients (i.e. N 100 nT/ m), for example near the steel works docks in Hamilton Harbour, render total field data unusable for the purposes of mapping sediment response. This is an important restriction since many contaminated waterways lie within close proximity of steel-con- structed docks and other ferrous infrastructure. The presence of submerged or buried ferrous materials such as underwater pipelines and refuse (e.g. Figs. 5B and 7B ) may also limit surveying in some urban waterways. In most cases, however, ferrous objects can easily be recognised by their characteristic dipole form and can be removed during data editing. While magnetic surveys can provide excellent discrimination of the areal distribution of contami- nated sediments ( Fig. 8 A), they provide less direct information about the depth extent and sub-bottom continuity of contaminated layers. Forward and also inverse modelling of magnetic data (e.g. Fig. 6 ) can


M.R. Pozza et al. / Journal of Applied Geophysics 57 (2004) 23–41

provide estimates of layer thickness but require that sediment magnetic susceptibilities are well con- strained from core data. Other approaches involve integrating magnetic surveys and core-data with acoustical methods that directly image the sub- bottom stratigraphy. In recent work, we have acquired magnetics simultaneously with broad-band (5–15 kHz) chirp sonar ( Eyles et al., 2003 ). Typically, the sub-bottom sonar profiler achieves decimetre-scale resolution of sediment layering and also permits quantitative classification of bottom sediment type and geotechnical properties based on analysis of the reflected acoustic impulse ( Leblanc et al., 1992; Caufield and Filkins, 1999 ). Ongoing work is aimed at d fusing T magnetic images with sediment type and thickness maps generated from chirp sonar data. It is anticipated that the integra- tion of magnetic, bathymetric and acoustic sub- bottom data will ultimately lead to an improved and more rapid means of estimating the thickness and total volumes of contaminated sediments requiring clean-up.

8. Summary

Magnetic surveys have been employed in Hamilton Harbour to map the extent of a contaminated upper layer of urban-sourced sediment. The resulting mag- netic anomaly maps ((Figs. 4B, 5B and 7B) ) corre- spond closely with core-derived data from previous studies ( Fig. 2 B) and serve to better resolve the location of contaminant outfalls and sediment accu- mulation areas within the harbour. Forward modelling of the magnetic results shows that the maximum thickness of contaminated sediments within Randle Reef, the most heavily impacted area of the basin, is about 5 m. The pattern of anomalies surrounding Randle Reef indicates that bathymetric lows in the harbour bottom are primary accumulation sites for contaminated sediments. Apparent susceptibility maps calculated from magnetic survey data provide a rapid means for classifying sediment impact levels prior to the collection of detailed core and geochemical data. This approach is likely to valuable in the initial stages of mapping large contaminated waterways where coring on a grid basis is prohibitively expensive and time consuming. Mapping of a dredged area in the

eastern harbour has shown that magnetic surveying also has some potential as a method for monitoring the progress and effectiveness of dredging operations once remediation work has begun.


This project was supported through a Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada grants to Boyce and a Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology grant to Morris and Boyce. The authors thank K. Versteeg for access to core data, D. Hrvoic and M. Marlowe (Marine Magnetics) for technical support, and C. Clark for assistance in the field. The processing of magnetic survey data was facilitated by an academic software grant from Geosoft.


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