Abstract

Palynomorph concentrations for water-column and sediment-water interface samples are presented for two coastal deltaic systems influenced by the range of tidal regimes to assess whether any taphonomic bias exists in pollen assemblages. The localities are the microtidally influenced Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, Alabama, United States, and the meso- to macrotidally influenced Rajang River Delta, Sarawak, East Malaysia. Mobile-Tensaw Delta data represent collections over a 13-month period; Rajang River Delta data represent sampling during the 1992 dry season. Results are reported for: (1) pollen concentration in suspended sediment loads and bottom sediments of distributary channels, and (2) selected spore-and-pollen frequencies in channels influenced by meso- and macrotidal processes. An increase in pollen concentration/liter occurs in all delta distributaries at water-column depth, and a positive relationship exists between pollen concentration and suspension load. Concentrations at the sediment-water interface are highest in tidally influenced areas where Heterogenous Aggregate Organic Matter (OM) clasts (floccules) dominate palynofacies assemblages, and statistically significant for Mobile-Tensaw lower delta plain sites. Hence, microtidal influence at the interface between fresh and brackish waters affects palynomorph concentration in bottom sediment and may be a function of flocculation induced by salinity flux. In contrast, concentrations are highest in bottom sediments of Rajang River distributaries where little active sediment transport occurs and tidal range is highest, and is due to several factors including a high proportion of Heterogenous Aggregate OM clasts. Additionally, the magnitude of tidal displacement impacts palynomorph distribution in the Rajang Delta, with mangrove pollen found in alluvial plain samples, a distance of ∼120 km from distributary mouth bars. Understanding the sedimentological conditions under which coastal deltaic pollen assemblages are preserved is critical before these can be used for paleoecological reconstruction.

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