Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Descriptions and preliminary report on sediment cores from the southwest coastal area, Everglades National Park, Florida

September 14, 2005

Sediment cores were collected from five locations in the southwest coastal area of Everglades National Park, Florida, in May 2004 for the purpose of determining the ecosystem history of the area and the impacts of changes in flow through the Shark River Slough. An understanding of natural cycles of change prior to significant human disturbance allows land managers to set realistic performance measures and targets for salinity and other water quality and quantity quality measures. Preliminary examination of the cores indicates significant changes have taken place over the last 1000-2000 years. The cores collected from the inner bays - the most landward bays - are distinctly different from other estuarine sediment cores examined in Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay. Peats in the inner-bay cores from Big Lostmans Bay, Broad River Bay, and Tarpon Bay were deposited at least 1000 years before present (BP) based on radiocarbon analyses. The peats are overlain by poorly sorted organic muds and sands containing species indicative of deposition in a freshwater to very low salinity environment. The Alligator Bay core, the most northern inner-bay core, is almost entirely sand; no detailed faunal analyses or radiometric dating has been completed on this core. The Roberts River core, taken from the mouth of the River where it empties into Whitewater Bay, is lithologically and faunally similar to previously examined cores from Biscayne and Florida Bays; however, the basal unit was deposited ~2000 years before the present based on radiocarbon analyses. A definite trend of increasing salinity over time is seen in the Roberts River core, from sediments representing a terrestrially dominated freshwater environment at the bottom of the core to those representing an estuarine environment with a strong freshwater influence at the top. The changes seen at Roberts River could represent a combination of factors including rising sea-level and changes in freshwater supply, but the timing and extent of the changes needs to be determined. The preliminary information on the cores collected in 2004 will be combined with data from cores collected in July 2005. The 2005 cores were collected along transects moving from the inner bays out towards the coast. These transects, combining information from the 2004 and 2005 cores, will allow us to examine long term trends in freshwater supply, sea-level rise, and potentially the impact of storms on the coastal ecosystem.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2005
Title Descriptions and preliminary report on sediment cores from the southwest coastal area, Everglades National Park, Florida
DOI 10.3133/ofr20051360
Authors G. Lynn Wingard, Thomas M. Cronin, Charles W. Holmes, Debra A. Willard, Carlos A. Budet, Ruth E. Ortiz
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2005-1360
Index ID ofr20051360
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization