The Effects of Sunken Automotives on Benthic Sediments
Bell, Monique Sophia
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This study seeks to examine how sunken automotives are affecting the surrounding environment; “automotives” in this context are defined as any vehicle that moves on a motor (including planes, trains, boats, and cars). Pollution from automotives is a nearly untouched section of marine science with little more than speculation as to how they are affecting benthic environments. Anti-fouling paint, PBDE’s, oil/coal shipments, and other metal contaminations can cause sickness for marine organisms or severe phytoplankton blooms which may result in anoxic conditions lower in the water column. Sediment samples were sent to the University of Washington’s SEFS analysis lab for a total heavy metal contamination count, while other samples were sent through a Coulter Counter to cross examine the grainsize in the environment. Most of the metals studied show no correlation with variables that would normally produce a correlation, such as grainsize. There was a positive correlation between the size of the automotive and the percentage of metal present. Most metals did not show a correlation between grainsize and percentage of pollution, the exceptions being copper and magnesium. There was also little difference between fresh and saltwater environments. The pollution from sunken automotives gives off a decaying value for approximately 80 years, before fading into a negligible amount; given the harmful effects of these pollutants on the environment, the recommended solution would be to pull sunken automotives up shortly after they sink to avoid as much pollution as possible, especially larger sea-going vessels. Automotive pollution requires further study to draw confident correlations and conclusions.