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An almost completed pollution-recovery cycle reflected by sediment geochemistry and benthic foraminiferal assemblages in a Swedish–Norwegian Skagerrak fjord

Journal article
Authors Irina Polovodova Asteman
Daniela Hanslik
Kjell Nordberg
Published in Marine Pollution Bulletin
Volume 95
Issue 1
Pages 126-140
ISSN 0025-326X
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 126-140
Language en
Keywords Heavy metals Organic pollution Pulp and paper industry Environmental micropaleontology Bottom-water anoxia Ecological indicators
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences


During the 20th century Idefjord was considered one of the most polluted marine areas in Scandinavia. For decades it received high discharges from paper/pulp industry, which made it anoxic and extremely polluted by heavy metals and organic contaminants. Today the fjord is close to fulfil a complete pollution-recovery cycle, which is recorded in its sediment archives. Here we report results from five sediment cores studied for TC, C/N, heavy metals and benthic foraminifera. All of the cores have laminations deposited during 1940–1980s and indicative of long-lasting anoxia; high TC and heavy metal content, poor foraminiferal faunas and lack of macrofauna. The upper part of the cores deposited since 1980s shows a gradual pollutant decrease and partial foraminiferal recovery. The majority of foraminiferal species in Idefjord are agglutinated opportunistic and stress-tolerant taxa, which to some extent tolerate hypoxia and are early colonisers of previously disturbed environments. The current study demonstrates a value of benthic foraminiferal stratigraphy as a useful tool in understanding processes driving environmental degradation and recovery of coastal ecosystems.

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