Reconstructing recent sedimentation in two urbanised coastal lagoons (NSW, Australia) using radioisotopes and geochemistry
In this study, we combined grain size and geochemical analyses with radioisotope analysis of lead-210 (210Pb), caesium-137 (137Cs) and radiocarbon (14C) ages to reconstruct the sedimentation history of two urbanised coastal lagoons in south-east Australia. Towradgi and Fairy Lagoons were both found to exhibit slow initial sedimentation of less than 1 mm year-1 prior to anthropogenic influences. Land clearing in the catchments increased runoff and erosion in the creeks feeding into the estuaries, and has resulted in progradation of fluvial material into the estuarine systems with a marked increase in sedimentation to between 2 and 7 mm year-1. The upper 20-50 cm of the sediment column in both lagoons contained elevated concentrations of heavy metals such as Pb, Cu, Ni and Zn. This pollution trend was found to be consistent with the history of industrialisation and urbanisation in the region, which expanded rapidly post World War 2. The total metal concentrations were consistent with other urbanised/industrialised estuaries around the world. Despite the fairly disturbed nature of these coastal lagoons, the use of 210Pb, 137Cs and 14C dating in combination with bulk geochemical analyses allowed detailed reconstruction of sedimentation history. 2011 Her Majesty the Queen in Rights of the United Kingdom.