Date of Creation

Winter 11-14-2023

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Port sediments are often contaminated with metals and organic compounds from anthropogenic sources. Remobilization of sediment during a planned expansion of Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale, Florida (USA) has the potential to harm adjacent benthic communities, including coral reefs. Twelve sediment cores were collected from four Port Everglades sites and a control site; surface sediment was collected at two nearby coral reef sites. Sediment cores, sampled every 5 cm, were analyzed for 14 heavy metals using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Results for all three locations yielded concentration ranges (mg/g): As, Cd, Cr, Co, Cu, Pb, Mn, Hg, Mn, Ni, Se, Sn, V, and Zn. The geo-accumulation index shows moderate to- strong contamination of As and Mo in port sediments, and potential ecological risk indicates moderate-to-significantly high overall metal contamination. All four port sites have sediment core subsamples with As concentrations above both threshold effect level (TEL, 7.24 mg/g) and probable effect level (PEL, 41.6 mg/g), while Mo geometric mean concentrations exceed the background continental crust level (1.5 mg/g) threshold. Control site sediments exceed TEL for As, while the reef sites has low to no overall heavy metal contamination. Results of this study indicate there is a moderate to high overall ecological risk from remobilized sediment due to metal contamination. Due to an imminent dredging at Port Everglades, this could have the potential to harm the threatened adjacent coral communities and surrounding protected habitats.

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