Recent (6-12 months) marsh sediment accretion and accumulation rates were measured with feldspar marker horizons in the vicinity of natural waterways and man-made canals with spoil banks in the rapidly subsiding environment of coastal Louisiana. Annual accretion rates in a Spartina alterniflora salt marsh in the Mississippi deltaic plain averaged 6 mm in marsh adjacent to canals compared to 10 mm in marsh adjacent to natural waterways. The rates, however, were not statistically significantly different. The average rate of sediment accretion in the same salt marsh region for a transect perpendicular to a canal (13 mm yr-1) was significantly greater than the rate measured for a transect perpendicular to a natural waterway (7 mm yr-1). Measurements of soil bulk density and organic matter content from the two transects were also different. This spatial variability in accretion rates is probably related to (1) spoil bank influences on local hydrology; and (2) a locally high rate of sediment input from lateral erosion associated with pond enlargement. In a brackish Spatina patens marsh on Louisiana's chenier plain, vertical accretion rates were the same along natural and canal waterways (3-4 mm yr-1) in a hydrologically restricted marsh region. However, the accretion rates for both waterways were significantly lower than the rates along a nonhydrologically restricted natural waterway nearby (11 mm yr-1). The vertical accretion of matter displayed semi-annual differences in the brackish marsh environment.
Additional publication details
Accretion and canal impacts in a rapidly subsiding wetland II: Feldspar marker horizon technique