The curious case of Alessandro Lagoon

Last week part of the MeSCAL team traveled to Ventura in order to complete the final great coring in the Project. We still have to core some other sites, but the main sedimentary records are all finally with us, cause after a long delay and difficulties on the path, we could core Alessandro Lagoon.

This little lagoon is an urban wetland in Ventura, located just 2 km away from the Mission of San Buenaventura. This small natural wetland has bravely resisted coastal urban development and it is surrounded by houses, the Highway 101, some big roads, tennis courts, and big beach parking lots which are usually full… The ocean shore is close, and the marine breeze reaches the lagoon after crossing some abandoned plots and dancing under well-aligned palm trees and streetlights. Alessandro Lagoon is a protected space designed as Historical Landmark by the City of Ventura in 1982 due to, among other reasons, its main importance for the migratory birds in the Ventura County

Alessandro Lagoon view

Scott Anderson (NAU), Alex Simms and Ryan Owings (UCSB) went to an exciting coring mission, and they obtained a long and well-preserved core. They had to face the challenge of working in a humid environment, with dense vegetation and narrow space that made it difficult to reach the center of the wetland, where they had to take the core. It was difficult and demanding, but finally, after some attempts and a long wait, we can say that Alessandro Lagoon’s core is ready to be studied.

The first thing they did after coring was to open and describe the cores, and to take some samples for dating and pollen tests. Once we have the first chronology established, we will focus on studying how the landscape around Alessandro Lagoon was transformed. We want to know how in the past this wetland played an important role in human migrations, and how deep it was the impact of the human and climatic dynamics in this lagoon’s landscape. Its close proximity to the Spanish Mission makes it a key site to assess the influence of colonial settling in the coastal landscape. Alessandro Lagoon will be essential in this project, because we will compare these data with those obtained in the marine core and in other sites studied in SoCal.