Date of Graduation
Master of Science in Geology (MS)
John B. Shaw
Second Committee Member
Kusum J. Naithani
Third Committee Member
Jill A. Marshall
coastal, CRMS, delta, geology, land change, geomorphology, sustainability, wetlands
Recent reports estimate that the marshes of the Mississippi Delta receive just 30% of the sediment necessary to sustain current land area1. An extensive monitoring campaign by the USGS and LCPRA provides direct measurements of sediment accumulation, subsidence rates, and deposit characteristics along the coast over the past 10 years2, allowing us to directly evaluate this sediment balance. By interpolating bulk density, organic fraction, and vertical accretion rates from 273 sites, a direct measurement of organic and inorganic sediment accumulation can be made. Results show that a total of 82 MT/year of sediment is delivered to the coast. Using a fluvial sediment discharge of 113 MT/yr1, 52% of the riverine transported sediment is accumulated in the coastal lands of the Mississippi Delta. Assuming an average 9 mm/yr subsidence rate3 and 3 mm/yr sea-level rise1, this accumulation results in a 2.7 MT/yr (3.5%) sediment mass surplus. However, there is a 0.014 km3/yr (5.4%) sediment volume deficit caused by the sediment porosity being too small to fill the accommodation space. About 20 MT/yr inorganic and 6 MT/yr organic sediment initially accumulates in deltaic areas directly nourished by the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, resulting in an initial sediment trapping efficiency of 18%. The remaining sediment must be delivered indirectly to the coast after passing through the ocean, accounting for another 39 MT/yr of inorganic sediment being trapped on coastal marshes. 17 MT/yr organic sediment is produced through marsh plant production. These results suggest that even if current relative sea level rise rates do not change, the gap between accommodation and accumulation is not as dire as previously thought.
Sanks, Kelly Marie, "Keeping Pace with Relative Sea Level Rise: Marsh Platform Monitoring Shows Minimal Sediment Deficit along the Louisiana Coast" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 3106.
Environmental Health and Protection Commons, Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment Commons, Environmental Monitoring Commons, Environmental Studies Commons, Geomorphology Commons, Natural Resources and Conservation Commons, Physical and Environmental Geography Commons, Sustainability Commons