Vertical accretion rates and heavy metal chronologies in wetland sediments of the Tijuana Estuary
- Cite this article as:
- Weis, D.A., Callaway, J.C. & Gersberg, R.M. Estuaries (2001) 24: 840. doi:10.2307/1353175
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This study represents the first report on sediment accretion rates using137Cs dating for a southern California salt marsh. Vertical accretion rates ranged from 0.7 to 1.2 cm yr−1, which is at the high end of sediment accretion values for coastal wetlands. This has lead to increases in elevation within the estuary from 18 to 35 cm over the last 35 years. Depth profiles of metal concentrations were converted to time-based profiles using vertical accretion rates. Chronologies for most cores indicate a consistent peak in sediment lead (Pb) concentrations in the early to mid 1980s, corresponding to the historic decline in Pb use, which was completed in the U.S. by the early 1980s, but not begun in Mexico until 1991. Sediment Pb levels ranged from about 6–56 μg g−1. Other metals did not show any consistent trends in sediment chronology, except for a single core from a mid-marsh site (east-mid 2), which showed a 2–3-fold increase in levels of Cu, Ni, and Zn during the past two decades. Sediment levels of copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), and zinc (Zn) ranged from 6–34 μg g−1, 11–27 μg g−1, and 42–122 μg g−1, respectively. Despite rapid industrial development of the watershed, a comparison of the sediment metal concentrations in the Tijuana Estuary to other anthropogenically-impacted estuaries in the United States and Europe, shows that metal levels in sediments of the north arm of the estuary are relatively low.