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Late Holocene sea-level rise in Tampa Bay: Integrated reconstruction using biomarkers, pollen, organic-walled dinoflagellate cysts, and diatoms

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Author: Soelen, E.E. van · Lammertsma, E.I. · Cremer, H. · Donders, T.H. · Sangiorgi, F. · Brooks, G.R. · Larson, R.A. · Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. · Wagner-Cremer, F. · Reichart, G.J.
Institution: TNO Bouw en Ondergrond
Source:Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 2, 86, 216-224
Identifier: 273917
Keywords: Geosciences · Estuaries · Florida · Holocene · Palaeoenvironments · Sea-level changes · Earth & Environment · PG - Petroleum Geosciences · EELS - Earth, Environmental and Life Sciences


A suite of organic geochemical, micropaleontological and palynological proxies was applied to sediments from Southwest Florida, to study the Holocene environmental changes associated with sea-level rise. Sediments were recovered from Hillsborough Bay, part of Tampa Bay, and studied using biomarkers, pollen, organic-walled dinoflagellate cysts and diatoms. Analyses show that the site flooded around 7.5 ka as a consequence of Holocene transgression, progressively turning a fresh/brackish marl-marsh into a shallow, restricted marine environment. Immediately after the marine transgression started, limited water circulation and high amounts of runoff caused stratification of the water column. A shift in dinocysts and diatom assemblages to more marine species, increasing concentrations of marine biomarkers and a shift in the Diol Index indicate increasing salinity between 7.5 ka and the present, which is likely a consequence of progressing sea-level rise. Reconstructed sea surface temperatures for the past 4 kyrs are between 25 and 26 ° C, and indicate stable temperatures during the Late Holocene. A sharp increase in sedimentation rate in the top ∼50 cm of the core is attributed to human impact. The results are in agreement with parallel studies from the area, but this study further refines the environmental reconstructions having the advantage of simultaneously investigating changes in the terrestrial and marine environment. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.