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Geochemical sourcing of runoff from a young volcanic watershed to an impacted coral reef in Pelekane Bay, Hawaii

September 5, 2018

Runoff of sediment and other contaminants from developed watersheds threatens coastal ecosystems and services. A sediment geochemical sourcing study was undertaken on a sediment-impacted coral reef flat to identify terrestrial sediment sources and how these changed over time. Geochemical signatures were identified for watershed soils that formed on Hawaiian basaltic and alkalic lavas using relatively immobile compatible (Ni, Sc) and incompatible (Nb, REE, Th) elements quantified by ICP-MS in total decompositions of the fine fraction of surface soils. Some soils also contained ash from late-erupting cinder conesthat added alkalic geochemical signatures, resulting in distinctive mixed signatures near these geologic features. Sediment was collected in Pelekane Bay using sediment trapsduring winter 2010–2011 and a sediment core in order to geochemically source runoff entering the bay. Geochemical signatures in trapped sediment showed that runoff predominantly originated from the lower watershed along a highway corridor rather than from the upper watershed or areas with alkalic lavas. Soil in the highway corridor also contained Zn above levels of concern for aquatic organisms and anthropogenic Pb, indications that runoff control measures could reduce the exposure of the reef community to potentially toxic metals and other road-associated contaminants. The upper portion of a 60-yr long sediment record from Pelekane Bay was disturbed by tsunamigenic waves from the Tohoku earthquake, and the remainder was likely subject to mixing by winter waves that averaged out geochemical variations. On average, watershed regions with basaltic soils were the predominant source of runoff to the bay over the past 60 years. By linking sediment runoff to geographic regions or features in watersheds, geochemical sourcing can provide insights that allow resource managers to direct runoff mitigation and soil conservation efforts to areas where they will be most effective.

Publication Year 2019
Title Geochemical sourcing of runoff from a young volcanic watershed to an impacted coral reef in Pelekane Bay, Hawaii
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.08.282
Authors Renee K. Takesue, Curt D. Storlazzi
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science of the Total Environment
Index ID 70199129
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center