Author(s): Carson HS, Colbert SL, Kaylor MJ, McDermid KJ
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Abstract We investigated the physical properties of beaches contaminated with plastic fragments. We compared sediment cores from Hawai'i Island's Kamilo Beach, notable for plastic accumulation, to cores from a nearby beach. Compared to the nearby beach, Kamilo sediments contained more plastics (up to 30.2\% by weight), were coarser-grained, and were more permeable (t-test, p<0.0001). 85\% of the fragments were polyethylene, and 95\% were concentrated in the top 15 cm of the cores. We constructed artificial cores of standardized grain size and varying plastic-to-sediment ratios. Adding plastic significantly increased the permeability (ANOVA, p=0.002), which was partially attributed to the fragments increasing the mean grain size. Sediments with plastic warmed more slowly (16\% maximum decrease in thermal diffusivity), and reached lower maximum temperatures (21\% maximum increase in heat capacity). These changes have a variety of potential effects on beach organisms, including those with temperature-dependent sex-determination such as sea turtle eggs. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Mar Pollut Bull
and referenced in Journal of Marine Science: Research & Development