Land use impact on Sedimentation rates during the Colonization period in Coral Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Authors: Sewon Ohr*, Department of Geography, College of Social Science, Seoul National University, Carlos Ramos-Scharrón, Department of Geography & the Environment and LLILAS-Benson, The University of Texas at Austin
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Anthropocene, Geomorphology
Keywords: land use, sedimentation, coral reef, tourism, plantation, agriculture
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Taylor, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Since the 18th century, land use on St. John in the Caribbean region has resulted in changes in sediment inputs to the coastal waters of this area. Increases in sediment inputs to the marine environment are important because nearshore ecosystem is critically vulnerable to sediment yields. High rates of sediment yield significantly reduced coral cover and diversity. In Coral Bay of St. John, the numbers of the coral reef have been drastically decreased with the construction of the industrial facilities. For this reason, changes in land cover and following changes in sedimentation yield and are good proxies to assess human impact. The resulting information of the land cover and the potential sediment yield in the 18th and 19th centuries can be used to compare with those in the 20th and 21st centuries and eventually to guide land use and set priorities for ameliorating problem areas in the future. In this study, historical records were used to investigate the relationship between changes in land use and sedimentation rates in the 10.7 km² area draining toward Coral Bay in eastern St. John from 1720 to 1915. Considering marine resources as the major income source of tourism in the Caribbean region, these topics gain interest from the interdisciplinary fields. In this context, this research can be helpful to understand the different regions with the similar background. Furthermore, this research helps to assess the anthropogenic impact through land use in part.

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