TREASURE project

TREASURE - Targeting Emerging Contaminated Sediments Along The Uplifting Northern Baltic Coast Of Sweden For Remediation.

Project Leader: Ian Snowball 

Read the Report: TREASURE research project. 

TREASURE is one of three transdisciplinary projects that received FORMAS funding (app. 7 million SEK) as part of the TUFFO initiative that is coordinated by Swedish Geotechnical Institute (SGI). TREASURE is co-funded by the project applicants to a total of app. 12 million SEK.  TUFFO is designed to provide more effective remediation of polluted environments and the TREASURE project specifically aims to provide recommendations for the remediation of heavily contaminated sediments along the Swedish coasts, which threaten the health of the Baltic Sea.

A drawing of how, for example, heavy metals can enter the food chain. Illustration.
An artists impression of how of contaminated banks of cellulose, which are situated in shallow coastal waters next to many past and present factories, can be dispersed to areas where heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants can enter the food chain. These so-called fibre banks sit on potentially unstable layers of silt and clay and the hazardous substances in them can be dispersed by many processes. These processes include wave action, submarine landslides, chemical diffusion and bioturbation.

Summary of TREASURE

TREASURE will develop new methods to assess the risk of dispersal of contaminant laden, cellulose rich fibre banks that exist in shallow waters along the Swedish coast and identify the areas in most urgent need of remediation. Extremely high concentrations of organic pollutants and heavy metals exist in these industrially formed banks and disperse to areas of bioaccumulation. At the moment, Sweden has no quantitative knowledge about the physical and chemical stability of the fiber banks and no systematic assessment method combines toxicity and contaminant dispersal by various pathways, such as submarine landslides.

View of the Ångermanälven river. Photo.
RV Ocean Survey berthed in Ångermanälven, with the High Coast suspension bridge visible in the far background.

A transdisciplinary group of Swedish partners and international collaborators combine their knowledge, infrastructure and concepts to systematically characterize the geotechnical, chemical and (micro) biological properties of the fibre banks and underlying sediments and trace the movement of hazardous substances into benthic fauna. The chosen study area is the Ångermanälven estuary, which is an area with known environmental concerns. The complementary data sets will form the input to a probability analysis that will classify the polluted areas in terms of chemical and physical stability and hazard level. The method developed will produce thematic risk assessment maps, which can be used by environmental managers involved in remediation.

Participants in TREASURE Kick-off meeting. Photo.
Participants in TREASURE Kick-off meeting held on board RV Ocean Surveyor in November 2014. Left to right: Ian Snowball (UU), Hjördis Löfröth (SGI), Lovisa Zillén (SGU) Sarah Joseffson (SLU), Gunnel Göransson (SGI), Paul Frogner-Kockum (SGI) Anna Svensson (UU), Martin Holmen (SGI), Matt O’Regan (SU), Karin Wiberg (SLU), Anna Apler (SGU/UU). Missing - Catherine Paul (UU), Achim Kopf (MARUM).

Project leader

  • Prof. Ian Snowball. Uppsala University, Department of Earth Sciences – Natural Resources and Sustainable (additional collaborator Anna Apler*).
    Roles: Project coordinator and main supervisor of industrial PhD student sponsored by SGU. Management and synthesis.

Swedish partners

  • Dr. Gunnel Göransson. Swedish Geotechnical Institute (SGI) (additional collaborators Dr. Paul Frogner-Kockum & Dr. Hjördis Löfroth & Dr Martin Holmen).
    Roles: Stability analyses, geotechnical tests, deployment of benthic flux chamber. Risk assessment.
  • Dr. Catherine Paul. Lund University, Department of Building and Environmental Technology - Water Resources Engineering.
    Role: Genome screening of microbial communities
  • Dr Matt O’Regan. Stockholm University, Department of Geological Sciences - Marine Geology. 
    Roles: Core logging, geotechnical measurements.
  • Prof. Karin Wiberg. Swedish Agricultural University (SLU) (additional collaborator Dr. Sarah Josefsson).
    Roles: Chemical characterization of sediments and benthos.
  • Dr. Lovisa Zillén. Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU), Marine Geology (additional collaborator Anna Apler*).
    Roles: Seafloor surveying and sampling.
    *PhD student affiliated to UU.

International partners

  • Prof. Achim Kopf. Marine Geotechnics, Center for Marine Environmental Studies – MARUM. Bremen, Germany.
    Role: FF-CPTu (dynamic cone penetrator) and interpretation of results.


TREASURE Publications, and relevant publications:

SGU report on fiberbanks in the county of Västernorrland.

Last modified: 2022-08-04