Science Inventory

Characterizing the Organic Matter in Surface Sediments from the San Juan Bay Estuary,


Santos, E., A. Oczkowski, C. Wigand, Alana Hanson, AND E. Huertas. Characterizing the Organic Matter in Surface Sediments from the San Juan Bay Estuary,. Society for Wetlands Scientists (SWS) Annual Meeting, San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 05 - 08, 2017.


This poster will describe results of sediment quality characteristics in the San Juan Bay Estuary. It describes how the closure of the Martin Pena Canal is impacting the sediment nitrogen content of the ecosystem.


The San Juan Bay Estuary (SJBE) is located on the north coast of Puerto Rico and includes the San Juan Bay, San José Lagoon, La Torrecilla Lagoon and Piñones Lagoon, as well as the Martín Peña and the Suárez Canals. The SJBE watershed has the highest density of inhabitants and major industrial activities in Puerto Rico. As a result, the SJBE is impacted by wastewater from combined-sewer overflows, faulty sewer lines, and storm water runoff; these factors combined with trash accumulation and infilling of the Martín Peña canal, contribute to decreased tidal exchange and reduced flushing in the estuary. To quantify the impact of the obstruction of the Martín Peña canal on anthropogenic nutrient distribution in the SJBE, over 200 sediment grab samples were collected throughout the estuary in 2015. The samples were analyzed for carbonate content, organic matter, grain size, bulk density, percent phosphorus, percent nitrogen (%N), and stable isotopes (δ15N and δ13C). The %N values were highest in the surface sediments from the western portion of the Martín Peña canal, where %N was >0.86%. In contrast, %N from the adjacent San José lagoon averaged <0.2%. Grain size distributions across the SJBE were consistent with low flushing in the inner portions of the SJBE. While the Martín Peña canal remains phosphorus limited, N:P ratios suggest the San Juna Bay and San José Lagoon have undergone major ecological shifts in the past two decades. Our preliminary results quantify how the obstruction of the Martín Peña canal has resulted in an enhanced depositional environment. This has been associated with bottom water hypoxia, fish kills, and excessive trash accumulation, which have serious implications for human and ecological health along the SJBE. To ameliorate these problems, the Martín Peña canal is slated to be dredged in 2018. This study provides baseline sediment quality data with which to compare future ecosystem changes.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 06/05/2017
Record Last Revised: 06/12/2017
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 336596