Feb 4, 2016

Salt Pond by Dana Y.

January 11, 2016

This morning Lisa had a discussion with us about sustainability for San Salvador. We learned that there are nine types of sustainability. They consist of energy, food, jobs, transportation, water, education, shelter, waste management, and outreach. The one I find most interesting and want to do my project on is education. I think that if the education system teaches sustainability from an early age then it can have an impact on the other eight types of sustainability. Learning about all of this was my favorite part of the day.

In the afternoon we did a beach profile of the dunes on Junk Beach. We found that from the hurricane the debris had traveled about 42 meters from the ocean’s edge. This means it had to have traveled up and over the dune, across the road, and deposited on the edge of the hypersaline Salt Pond. Some of the debris consisted of netting, a variety of plastics, some metal scraps, and medications. It was super interesting to see how much this hurricane truly impacts this island.

Salt Pond lake is located on the eastern side of San Salvador Island. It's also interesting to note all of the inland lakes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Salvador_Island#/media/File:SanSalvador_map.jpg 
At Salt Pond, we also took core samples. You may notice the water in this inland pond is neither clear nor blue. Why is that? When Salt Pond formed, it was separated from the ocean by dunes that created a barrier to the sea. This cut-off basin then began to collect rain water and even overwash from the sea in times of storms. Who lives in these waters plays an even bigger role in the color of the water. A community of microbial mats call this pond their home and give the water its brownish-red glow. The mats are made of thin layers of bacteria that grow beneath the water surface. They play a role in the dynamics of the pond by influencing the precipitation and dissolution of carbonates.

Microbial mats. You may be familiar with the ones from Yellowstone National Park (left). On the right is an image of a profile of layered mats.

Photograph of Salt Pond. View is to the west. The core sample was taken from this portion of the pond to see the transition of various mats through depth.  

In order to understand the microbial mats better, we got a push core of the pond floor. We walked out about 40 ft. into the pond in order to get our core. The bottom of the pond was extremely gucky and difficult to navigate since my feet kept sinking into the floor! We hope to analyze how the mats change in varying water depth.