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Coastal sedimentation and pollution trends

Collection of sediment cores from the Caribbean region.

Increased awareness of the value of marine ecosystem goods and services has led policymakers worldwide to develop and implement national and international legislation aimed to protect them. However, it is often uncertain if the implemented policy actions have had positive impacts in the environment. In many developing countries, anthropogenic impacts (both local and diffuse) seem likely to increase with economic growth, in the absence of concerted remedial action. Such action may be more acceptable if it can be demonstrated that there is a commensurate improvement in environmental quality.

Coral reef in Republic of Palau.

Dated environmental archives such as sediment cores, corals, and shells are commonly used to reveal the history of anthropogenic impacts in marine ecosystems. Analysis of these records reveals past changes produced in these ecosystems and show overall impact trends. At RML we extensively use 210Pb to date recent environmental changes recorded in sediment and coral cores. This also allows quantifying sediment accumulation rates in coastal ecosystems.

Pollution trends (Pb) in La Habana bay (Technical Cooperation project RLA7012 “Use of Nuclear Techniques to Address the Management Problems of Coastal Zones in the Caribbean Region”).