The 48th Annual Geological Society of America Northeastern section meeting took place on March 17-19, 2013 at the Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire (link)
The session on Naturally Occurring Contaminants in Groundwater Used for Water Supply in the Northeastern United States was organized by Yan Zheng, Queens College, CUNY and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisade, NY and Joe Ayotte, United States Geological Survey, Pembroke, NH. Yan Zheng chaired the session. Two papers from the Columbia SRP project were presented, and the session was attended by five current and former members of Columbia’s SRP team: Yan Zheng and Sara Flanagan from the Community Engagement Core, Stuart Braman from the Research Translation Core and Qiang Yang and Beth O’Shea reporting on work done on the former Project 5 – Mobilization of Natural Arsenic in Groundwater.
Qiang Yang began the session with his presentation on Hydrogeochemical Control of Arsenic, Uranium and Radon in Domestic Wells from Bedrock Aquifers in Central Maine. The next four papers extended the theme with a look at arsenic occurrence in metamorphosed bedrock units in Maine by Beth O’Shea, in gold-bearing quartz veins in western Ireland by Martin Gilligan, in the Newark and Gettysburg basins in Pennsylvania by Johanna M.T.Blake and in pyrite in Taconic slates in southwestern Vermont by Helen Mango.
A paper on water quality in Unity Maine wells by Lois K. Ongley served as the transition to a presentation on Arsenic in Nova Scotia’s Private Drinking Water Wells: Reducing Risk Exposure through Community-based Knowledge-To-Action Interventions by Heather Chappells. The final presentation, Mitigating Arsenic Exposure from Maine’s Private Drinking Water Wells By Targeting Behavioral Factors Through Community Engagement by Sara Flanagan focused on the Columbia Community Engagement Core survey of households in Maine with the goal of understanding psychological conditions necessary for adopting testing and treatment behaviors. The improved understanding will then guide the design of community level interventions. Because the Columbia CEC and Nova Scotia projects are addressing the same issues RTC is working with in New Jersey, the meeting provided a great opportunity to exchange ideas and lay the groundwork for possible future collaboration.
An informal evening gathering hosted by Yan Zheng provided an opportunity for discussions with the USGS scientist who were prevented from participating in the morning session due to the sequestration. In addition to session presenters, Columbia CEC collaborators Dr. Robert Marvinney and Mr. R. Johnston from Maine Geological Survey joined the evening conversation. A special issue is planned for Science of the Total Environment to highlight the risks arsenic poses to communities in Northeastern United States and Canada.