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Recovery patterns of macrobenthos and sediment at a closed fly-ash dumpsite

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Christopher Frid


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Almost 14 million tonnes of fly ash from the Blyth Power Station were disposed of at a sublittoral dumpsite off the NE of England from 1956 to December 1992. The recovery of the sediment and the macrofauna at two impacted areas was assessed against ambient, control conditions by means of a 0.1 m2 van Veen grab. An area of 27 km2 was covered by three sediment surveys (August 1993, March & October 1994) and three faunal surveys (January 1994, September 1993 & 1994). Sediment trends were analysed by means of PCA and mapping, whereas species patterns were contrasted through trophic and α-diversity measures. Signs of recovery were observed over the whole study period, though dramatic increases in α-diversity and the recuperation of the impacted subsurface detritivore species only occurred between winter and summer 1994 simultaneous with a 80 % loss of fly-ash in the sediments at the dumpsite. Macrobenthic recolonisation involved opportunists, ambient dominants, and taxa experiencing regional expansion. Species replacement and change in dominance characterised the succession towards ambient conditions, and were still obvious by the Summer 1994 when over 40 % of the background density had been reached. Coarse wastes derived from dumping, both fly-ash aggregates and clinker, have persisted in inshore areas impacting this, normally, soft-bottomed system. The rate of change in sediment characteristics at the dumpsite could imply that considerable amounts of waste remain buried under a layer of sand and could surface in the future, re-setting the on-going process of recovery.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Herrando-Perez S, Frid CLJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sarsia

Year: 2001

Volume: 86

Issue: 4-5

Pages: 389-400

Print publication date: 01/01/2001

ISSN (print): 0036-4827

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Taylor & Francis