Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 405–414 | Cite as

The 20th-century development and expansion of Louisiana shelf hypoxia, Gulf of Mexico

  • Lisa E. Osterman
  • Richard Z. Poore
  • Peter W. Swarzenski
  • David B. Senn
  • Steven F. DiMarco
Original

Abstract

Since systematic measurements of Louisiana continental-shelf waters were initiated in 1985, hypoxia (oxygen content <2 mg L−1) has increased considerably in an area termed the dead zone. Monitoring and modeling studies have concluded that the expansion of the Louisiana shelf dead zone is related to increased anthropogenically derived nutrient delivery from the Mississippi River drainage basin, physical and hydrographical changes of the Louisiana Shelf, and possibly coastal erosion of wetlands in southern Louisiana. In order to track the development and expansion of seasonal low-oxygen conditions on the Louisiana shelf prior to 1985, we used a specific low-oxygen foraminiferal faunal proxy, the PEB index, which has been shown statistically to represent the modern Louisiana hypoxia zone. We constructed a network of 13 PEB records with excess 210Pb-derived chronologies to establish the development of low-oxygen and hypoxic conditions over a large portion of the modern dead zone for the last 100 years. The PEB index record indicates that areas of low-oxygen bottom water began to appear in the early 1910s in isolated hotspots near the Mississippi Delta and rapidly expanded across the entire Louisiana shelf beginning in the 1950s. Since ~1950, the percentage of PEB species has steadily increased over a large portion of the modern dead zone. By 1960, subsurface low-oxygen conditions were occurring seasonally over a large part of the geographic area now known as the dead zone. The long-term trends in the PEB index are consistent with the 20th-century observational and proxy data for low oxygen and hypoxia.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Supplementary material

367_2009_158_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (550 kb)
Supplementary material, approximately 550 KB.

References

  1. Alexander RB, Smith RA, Schwarz GE, Boyer EW, Nolan JV, Brakebill JW (2008) Differences in phosphorus and nitrogen delivery to the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River Basin. Environ Sci Technol 42:822–830CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aller RC (1998) Mobile deltaic and continental shelf muds as suboxic, fluidized bed reactors. Mar Chem 61:143–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allison MA, Kineke GC, Gordon ES, Goni M (2000) Development and reworking of a seasonal flood deposit on the inner continental shelf off the Atchafalaya River. Cont Shelf Res 20:2267–2294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allison MA, Bianchi TS, McKee BA, Sampere TP (2007) Carbon burial on river-dominated continental shelves: impact of historical changes in sediment loading adjacent to the Mississippi River. Geophys Res Lett L01606. doi:10.1029/2006GL028362
  5. Appleby PG, Oldfield F (1978) The calculation of Pb-210 dates assuming a constant rate of supply of unsupported 210Pb to the sediment. Catena 5:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Appleby PG, Oldfield F (1983) The assessment of Pb-210 data from sites with varying sediment accumulation rates. Hydrobiologia 103:29–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Austin WEN, Evans JR (2000) NE Atlantic benthic foraminifera: modern distribution patterns and palaeoecological significance. J Geol Soc 157:679–691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bernhard JM, Sen Gupta BK (1999) Foraminifera of oxygen-depleted environments. In: Sen Gupta BK (ed) Modern foraminifera. Kluwer Academic Press, London, pp 201–216Google Scholar
  9. Bernhard JM, Sen Gupta BK, Borne PF (1997) Benthic foraminiferal proxy to estimate dysoxic bottom-water oxygen concentrations: Santa Barbara Basin, U.S. Pacific continental margin. J Foram Res 27:301–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bianchi TS, Allison MA (2009) Large river delta-front estuaries as natural ‘recorders’ of global environmental change. Proc Natl Acad Sci 106:8085–8092Google Scholar
  11. Bianchi TS, DiMarco SF, Smith RW, Schreiner KM (2009) A gradient of dissolved organic carbon and lignin from Terrebonne-Timbalier Bay estuary to the Louisiana Shelf (USA). Mar Chem (in press). doi:10.1016/j.marchem.2009.07.010
  12. Blackwelder P, Hood T, Alvarez-Zarikian C, Nelsen TA, McKee B (1996) Benthic foraminifera from the NEOCOP study area impacted by the Mississippi River plume and seasonal hypoxia. Quat Int 31:19–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brunner CA, Beall JM, Bentley SJ, Furokawa Y (2006) Hypoxia hotspots in the Mississippi Bight. J Foram Res 36:95–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brunner CA, Kuykendall JI, Hartman VA, Howden SD (2008) The impact of hypoxia on foraminifera in the northern Mississippi Bight. Eos Trans AGU 89 n 53, Fall Meet Suppl Abstr OS43C-1306Google Scholar
  15. Chen N, Bianchi TS, McKee BA, Bland JM (2001) Historical trends of hypoxia on the Louisiana shelf: application of pigments as biomarkers. Org Geochem 32:543–561CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Diaz RJ, Rosenberg R (2008) Spreading dead zones and consequences for marine ecosystems. Science 321:926–929CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Duijnstee I, De Lugt I, Vonk Noordegraaf H, van der Zwaan B (2004) Temporal variability of foraminiferal densities in the northern Adriatic Sea. Mar Micropaleontol 50:125–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ernst S, van der Zwaan B (2004) Effects of experimentally induced raised levels of organic flux and oxygen depletion on a continental slope benthic foraminiferal community. Deep-Sea Res I 51:1709–1739Google Scholar
  19. Fisk HN (1952) Geological investigation of the Atchafalaya Basin and the problem of the Mississippi River diversion. US Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi River Commission, Vicksburg, MS, vol 1, pp1–145, vol 2, 36 plGoogle Scholar
  20. Frascari F, Spagnoli F, Marcaccio M, Giordano P (2006) Anomalous Po River flood event effects on sediments and the water column of the northwestern Adriatic Sea. Climate Res 31:151–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goldberg ED (1963) Geochronology with Pb-210. In: Symp Radioactive Dating, International Atomic Energy Agency, Athens, GA, November 1962, IAEA, Vienna, p 121Google Scholar
  22. Gooday AJ, Hughes JA (2002) Foraminifera associated with phytodetritus deposits at a bathyal site in the northern Rockall Trough (NE Atlantic): seasonal contrasts and a comparison of stained and dead assemblages. Mar Micropaleontol 46:83–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goolsby DA, Battaglin WA, Aulenbach BT, Hooper RP (2001) Nitrogen input to the Gulf of Mexico. J Environ Qual 30:329–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hetland RD, DiMarco SF (2008) The effects of bottom oxygen demand in controlling the structure of hypoxia on the Texas-Louisiana continental shelf. J Mar Syst 70:49–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jaramillo S, Sheremet A, Allison MA, Reed AH, Holland KT (2009) Wave-mud interactions over the muddy Atchafalaya subaqueous clinoform, Louisiana, United States: wave-supported sediment transport. J Geophys Res Oceans 114:C04002. doi:10.1029/2008JC004821 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jorissen FJ, Barmawidjaja DM, Puskaric S, van der Zwaan GJ (1992) Vertical distribution of benthic foraminifera in the northern Adriatic Sea: the relation with the organic flux. Mar Micropaleontol 19:131–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Karlsen AW, Cronin TM, Ishman SE, Willard DA, Kerhin R, Holmes CW, Marot M (2000) Historical trends in Chesapeake Bay dissolved oxygen based on benthic foraminifera from sediment cores. Estuaries 23:488–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kineke GC, Higgins EE, Hart K, Velasco D (2006) Fine-sediment transport associated with cold front passages on the shallow shelf, Gulf of Mexico. Cont Shelf Res 26:2073–2091CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Krishnaswamy S, Lal D, Martin JM, Meybeck M (1971) Geochronology of lake sediments. Earth Planet Sci Lett 11:407–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Krug EC (2007) Coastal change and hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico: Part I. Hydrol Earth System Sci 11:180–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Li D, Zhang J, Huang D, Wu Y, Liang J (2002) Oxygen depletion off the Changjiang (Yangtze River) Estuary. Sci China D 45:1137–1146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Meckel TA, Ten Brink US, Williams SJ (2006) Current subsidence rates due to compaction of Holocene sediments in southern Louisiana. Geophys Res Lett 33:L11403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mojtahid M, Jorissen F, Lansard B, Fontanier C, Bombled B, Rabouille C (2009) Spatial distribution of live benthic foraminifera in the Rhône prodelta: faunal response to a continental-marine organic matter gradient. Mar Micropaleontol 70:177–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Morton R, Bernier J, Barras J (2006) Evidence of regional subsidence and associated interior wetland loss induced by hydrocarbon production, Gulf coast region, USA. Environ Geol 50:261–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nelson TA, Blackwelder P, Hood T, McKee B, Romer N, Alvarez-Zarikian C, Metz S (1994) Time-based correlation of biogenic, lithologic, and authigenic sediment components with anthropogenic inputs in the Gulf of Mexico NECOP study area. Estuaries 17:873–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nittrouer CA, Sternberg RW, Carpenter R, Bennett JT (1979) Use of Pb-210 geochronology as a sedimentological tool - Application to the Washington continental shelf. Mar Geol 31:297–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nowlin WD Jr, Jochens AE, Reid RO, DiMarco SF (1998) Texas-Louisiana shelf circulation and transport processes study: synthesis report. Vol I: Technical Report. OCS Study MMS 98-0035. US Department of Interior, Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, New Orleans, LAGoogle Scholar
  38. Osterman LE (2003) Benthic foraminifers from the continental shelf and slope of the Gulf of Mexico: an indicator of shelf hypoxia. Estuar Coastal Shelf Sci 58:17–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Osterman LE, Pavich K, Caplan J (2004) Benthic foraminiferal census data from Gulf of Mexico cores (Texas and Louisiana continental shelf). Reston, VA, US Geol Surv Open-File Rep 2004-1209Google Scholar
  40. Osterman LE, Poore RZ, Swarzenski PW, Turner RE (2005) Reconstructing a 180-yr record of natural and anthropogenic induced low-oxygen conditions from Louisiana continental shelf sediments. Geology 33:329–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Osterman LE, Campbell PL, Swarzenski PW, Ricardo JP (2007) Biological, physical, and geochemical data from Gulf of Mexico core MRJ0504. St. Petersburg, FL, US Geol Surv Open-File Rep 2007-1024Google Scholar
  42. Osterman LE, Poore RZ, Swarzenski PW (2008a) The last 1000 years of natural and anthropogenic low-oxygen bottom water on the Louisiana shelf, Gulf of Mexico. Mar Micropaleontol 66:291–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Osterman LE, Kelly WS, Ricardo JP (2008b) Benthic foraminiferal census data from Louisiana continental shelf cores, Gulf of Mexico. St. Petersburg, FL, US Geol Surv Open-File Rep 2008-1348, http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2008/1348/
  44. Penland S, Wayne L, Britsch LD, Williams SJ, Beall AD, Butterworth VC (2000) Geomorphic classification of coastal land loss between 1932 and 1990 in the Mississippi River Delta Plain, Southeastern Louisiana. US Geol Surv Open-File Rep 00-417Google Scholar
  45. Platon E, Sen Gupta BK (2001) Benthic foraminiferal communities in oxygen depleted environments of the Louisiana continental shelf. In: Rabalais NN, Turner RE (eds) Coastal hypoxia: consequences for living resources and ecosystems. AGU, Washington, DC, Coastal and Estuarine Studies 58, pp 147–163Google Scholar
  46. Platon E, Sen Gupta BK, Rabalais NN, Turner RE (2005) Effect of seasonal hypoxia on the benthic foraminiferal community of the Louisiana inner continental shelf: the 20th century record. Mar Micropaleontol 54:263–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rabalais NN, Turner RE (2001) Hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico: description, causes, and change. In: Rabalais NN, Turner RE (eds) Coastal hypoxia: consequences for living resources and ecosystems. AGU, Washington, DC, Coastal and Estuarine Studies 58, pp 1–36Google Scholar
  48. Rabalais NN, Turner RE (2006) Oxygen depletion on the Gulf of Mexico adjacent to the Mississippi River. In: Neretin LN (ed) Past and present marine water column anoxia. NATO Science Series IV. Earth and Environmental Science. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 225–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rabalais NN, Wiseman WJ, Turner RE (1994) Comparison of continuous records of near-bottom dissolved oxygen from the hypoxia zone along the Louisiana coast. Estuaries 17:850–861CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rabalais NN, Turner RE, Justic D, Dortch Q, Wiseman WJ Jr, Sen Gupta BK (1996) Nutrient changes in the Mississippi River and system responses on the adjacent continental shelf. Estuaries 19:386–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rabalais NN, Turner RE, Justic D, Dortch Q, Wiseman WJ Jr (1999) Characterization of hypoxia, topic 1. Report for the Integrated Assessment on Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA Coastal Ocean Program Decision Analysis Series no 15, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Silver Spring, MDGoogle Scholar
  52. Rabalais NN, Atilla N, Normandeau C, Turner RE (2004) Ecosystem history of Mississippi River-influenced continental shelf revealed through preserved phytoplankton pigments. Mar Pollut Bull 49:537–547CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rabalais NN, Turner RE, Sen Gupta BK, Platon E, Parsons ML (2007) Sediments tell the history of eutrophication and hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Ecol Appl 17:S129–S143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Robbins JA, Edgington DN (1975) Determination of recent sedimentation rates in Lake Michigan using 210Pb and 137Cs. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 39:285–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sampere TP, Bianchi TS, Wakeham SG, Allison MA (2008) Sources or organic matter in surface sediments of the Louisiana continental margin: effects of primary depositional/transport pathways and a hurricane Event. Cont Shelf Res 28:2472–2487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sen Gupta BK, Turner RE, Rabalais NN (1996) Seasonal oxygen depletion in continental-shelf waters of Louisiana: historical record of benthic foraminifers. Geology 24:227–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Stow CA, Qian SS, Craig JK (2005) Declining threshold for hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. Environ Sci Technol 39:716–723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Swarzenski PW, Baskaran M, Rosenbauer RJ, Orem WH (2006) Historical trace element distribution in sediments from the Mississippi River Delta. Estuaries Coasts 29:1094–1107Google Scholar
  59. Swarzenski PW, Campbell PL, Poore RZ, Osterman LE, Rosenbauer RJ (2007) Examining offshore sediment-hosted contaminant transport from Hurricane Katrina. In: Farris GS, Smith G, Holm T, Robbins L, Demas C (eds) Science and the storms: the USGS response to the hurricanes of 2005. Lafayette, LA, US Geol Surv Circ 1306, pp 197–200Google Scholar
  60. Swarzenski PW, Campbell PL, Osterman LE, Poore RZ (2008) A combined geochemical and foraminiferal study on the Louisiana shelf: evidence for recurring low-oxygen events during the last millennium? Mar Chem 109:130–142. doi:10.1016/j.marchem.2008.01.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Törnqvist TE, Wallace DJ, Storms JEA, Wallinga J, van Dam RL, Blaauw M, Derksen MS, Klerks CJW, Meijneken C, Snijders EMA (2008) Mississippi delta subsidence primarily caused by compaction of Holocene strata. Nature Geosci 1:173–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Tsujimoto A, Nomura R, Yasuhara M, Yamazaki H, Yoshikawa S (2006) Impact of eutrophication on shallow marine benthic foraminifers over the last 150 years in Osaka Bay, Japan. Mar Micropaleontol 60:258–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Turner RE, Rabalais NN (2003) Linking landscape and water quality in the Mississippi River Basin for 200 years. BioScience 53:563–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Turner RE, Rabalais NN, Swenson EM, Kasprzak M, Romaire T (2005) Summer hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico and its prediction from 1978 to 1995. Mar Environ Res 59:65–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Turner RE, Rabalais NN, Justic D (2008) Gulf of Mexico: alternate states and a legacy. Environ Sci Technol 42:2323–2327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. van der Zwaan GJ (2000) Variation in natural vs. anthropogenic eutrophication of shelf areas in front of major rivers. In: Martin RE (ed) Environmental micropaleontology: the application of microfossils to environmental geology. Kluwer Academic/Plenum, New York, Topics in Geobiology 15, pp 385–404Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa E. Osterman
    • 1
  • Richard Z. Poore
    • 1
  • Peter W. Swarzenski
    • 2
  • David B. Senn
    • 3
  • Steven F. DiMarco
    • 4
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveySt. PetersburgUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey, Pacific Science CenterSanta CruzUSA
  3. 3.Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and TechnologyKastanienbaumSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of OceanographyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

Personalised recommendations