Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 174, Issue 1, pp 605-623

First online:

Empirical assessment of incorporating sediment quality triad data into a single index to distinguish dominant stressors between sites

  • S. Ian HartwellAffiliated withNOAA/NOS/NCCOS, Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment Email author 
  • , M. J. HameediAffiliated withNOAA/NOS/NCCOS, Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment
  • , A. S. PaitAffiliated withNOAA/NOS/NCCOS, Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Benthic infaunal community structure, sediment contamination, and sediment toxicity data (Sediment Quality Triad) were condensed into a single index based on the area of tri-axial plots, which were examined in relation to various habitat parameters. The purpose was to assess its utility for evaluating the relative impact of contaminants versus other stressors on benthic communities. The regression relationship between the areal index and the Effects Range–Median quotient (ERMq) was used to separate contaminant-impacted sites from sites impacted by hypoxia in Chesapeake Bay. Regression using the areal index and bottom oxygen confirm the utility of the approach. Data from Delaware, Galveston, and Biscayne Bays were also examined to determine if the approach may be effective in other estuaries.


Sediment contamination Analysis methods Chesapeake Bay Sediment quality triad