Study finds little change in oxygen content in deep sediments within Santa Monica Bay over the last century

In urbanized areas around the world, nutrient runoff has led to low oxygen zones in coastal waters and sediments, which can be deadly for any organisms living there. As Los Angeles has grown from a small town to an urban giant of more than 15 million residents over the last 100 years, researchers and managers have wondered about the fate of the deep waters and sediment of Santa Monica Bay. University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant funded researchers at USC and the University of California Los Angeles to map the deep water oxygen content and changes over time of Santa Monica Bay using sediment cores.

Key Results:

  • There has been little change in deep sediment oxygen in Santa Monica Bay over the last 100-120 years
  • Low oxygen has not spread in the deep sediments of Santa Monica Bay


Project Impacts & Application:

  • Results were presented at the Southern California Geobiology Symposium
  • An educational display of sample sediment cores was created for public education at the Santa Monica Aquarium
  • A YouTube video highlighting these interesting project methods was created for public education 


Principal Investigators

  • William M. Berelson, Ph.D., USC 
  • Tina Treude, Ph.D., UCLA



NOAA, 2016-2018


Additional Info


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Multicorer deployment in the Santa Monica Bay off the coastline of Malibu in summer 2016 from aboard the R/V YELLOWFIN. Sediment cores recovered with this instrument are analyzed to study the historic spreading of low oxygen conditions in the Santa Monica Bay and its impact on biological processes.

Researchers on a vessel off the coastline of Malibu.