Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Nina Goodey

Committee Member

Michael Kruge

Committee Member

Jennifer Krumins


Contaminated soils have been a concern in New Jersey since the Industrial Revolution (Gallagher, 2008). One site in particular has a variety of contaminants and is near the coast of Jersey City in Liberty State Park. Liberty State Park has been impacted by three significant changes. It was first a wetland in the 1600s, then became a New York dump site, and finally a railyard for the Central Railroad of New Jersey (Stanislaw, 2013). The whole land mass has mixed contaminants, including trace elements, heavy metals, organic wastes, and organic compounds. Currently, most of the state park has been dredged out and filled with “reclaimed landfill”. Only 102 out of the park's 490 hectares were left unremediated and this is the area that is under research. Even with this site still being highly contaminated, it has abundant plant life that has followed a relatively normal succession. In normal conditions, one might expect that contaminants would interfere with plant growth because they would impede different enzymatic functions of the plant. The goal of this study is to find out what contaminants are present in the LSP soils. There are four subplots and a reference site that my research group studied: HMF, 146, 43, 25F, and 25R. HMF or Hutcheson Memorial Forest is a natural preserve that Native Americans used for agriculture. The sites 146, 43, 25F, and 25R are in different locations within the restricted, unremediated section of Liberty State Park (LSP) and have different levels of contamination and plant life. This thesis reports on a category of organic compounds called saturated hydrocarbons. Depending on how contaminated each individual site is, the abundance of the specific saturated compounds may vary. The numerous findings prove that HMF is a natural site by having fewer hydrocarbons, as revealed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS). It also proves that 25R is the most organically contaminated site by its highest abundance of hydrocarbons out of all of the sites.

Chapter 1 (Introduction): presents the background of the two site (HMF and LSP) and prepares the reader for the complex topics discussed in the following chapters and describes the significance of this study.

Chapter 2 (Environmental Forensics): explains techniques used to investigate specific chemical compounds, how they relate to biotic processes, and how the chemical compounds affect the ecosystem.

Chapter 3: (Experimental Methods): goes into the specifics of the analytical techniques and how they apply when examining soil contamination.

Chapter 4: (Results and Discussions): shows the results from the experiment and interprets the data.

Chapter 5: (Environmental Toxicology/Impacts): explains the health impact of each studied category of compounds, how the compounds enrich the actual sites, and compare overall contaminants (LSP) to the uncontaminated site (HMF).

Chapter 6: (Conclusions): draws a final picture of what all the above evidence means, what we should do next, and how does the entire study relate to the people/communities that visit the LSP park now.

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