A record of recent change in terrestrial sedimentation in a coral-reef environment, La Parguera, Puerto Rico: a response to coastal development?

Mar Pollut Bull. 2008 Jun;56(6):1177-83. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2008.02.017. Epub 2008 Mar 21.


Increased sediment flux to the coastal ocean due to coastal development is considered a major threat to the viability of coral reefs. A change in the nature of sediment supply and storage has been identified in a variety of coastal settings, particularly in response to European colonization, but sedimentation around reefs has received less attention. This research examines the sedimentary record adjacent to a coastal village that has experienced considerable land-use change over the last few decades. Sediment cores were analyzed to characterize composition and sediment accumulation rates. Sedimentation rates decreased seaward across the shelf from 0.85 cm y(-1) in a nearshore bay to 0.19 cm y(-1) in a fore-reef setting. Data reflected a significant (up to 2x) increase over the last approximately 80 years in terrestrial sediment accumulating in the back-reef setting, suggesting greater terrestrial sediment flux to the area. Reef health has declined, and increased turbidity is believed to be an important impact, particularly when combined with additional stressors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthozoa / physiology*
  • Carbonic Acid / chemistry
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis*
  • Lead / chemistry
  • Puerto Rico
  • Seawater / chemistry


  • Lead
  • Carbonic Acid