The world's largest discharge of municipal sewage sludge to surface waters of the deep sea has caused measurable changes in the concentration of sludge indicators in sea-floor sediments, in a spatial pattern which agrees with the predictions of a recent sludge deposition model. Silver, linear alkylbenzenes, coprostanol, and spores of the bacterium Clostridium perfringens, in bottom sediments and in near-bottom suspended sediment, provide evidence for rapid settling of a portion of discharged solids, accumulation on the sea floor, and biological mixing beneath the water sediment interface. Biological effects include an increase in 1989 of two species of benthic polychaete worm not abundant at the dump site before sludge dumping began in 1986. These changes in benthic ecology are attributed to the increased deposition of utilizable food in the form of sludge-derived organic matter.
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Indicators of sewage contamination in sediments beneath a deep-ocean dump site off New York