Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Martin T Auer


Onondaga Lake has received the municipal effluent and industrial waste from the city of Syracuse for more than a century. Historically, 75 metric tons of mercury were discharged to the lake by chlor-alkali facilities. These legacy deposits of mercury now exist primarily in the lake sediments. Under anoxic conditions, methylmercury is produced in the sediments and can be released to the overlying water. Natural sedimentation processes are continuously burying the mercury deeper into the sediments. Eventually, the mercury will be buried to a depth where it no longer has an impact on the overlying water. In the interim, electron acceptor amendment systems can be installed to retard these chemical releases while the lake naturally recovers. Electron acceptor amendment systems are designed to meet the sediment oxygen demand in the sediment and maintain manageable hypolimnion oxygen concentrations. Historically, designs of these systems have been under designed resulting in failure. This stems from a mischaracterization of the sediment oxygen demand. Turbulence at the sediment water interface has been shown to impact sediment oxygen demand. The turbulence introduced by the electron amendment system can thus increase the sediment oxygen demand, resulting in system failure if turbulence is not factored into the design.

Sediment cores were gathered and operated to steady state under several well characterized turbulence conditions. The relationship between sediment oxygen/nitrate demand and turbulence was then quantified and plotted. A maximum demand was exhibited at or above a fluid velocity of 2.0 mm•s-1. Below this velocity, demand decreased rapidly with fluid velocity as zero velocity was approached. Similar relationships were displayed by both oxygen and nitrate cores.