The purpose of this study was to determine peat formation processes throughout the millennia in four tidal marshes in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Peat cores collected at each site were analyzed for bulk density, loss on ignition, and percent organic carbon. Core data and spline fit age-depth models were used to estimate inorganic sedimentation, organic accumulation, and carbon sequestration rates in the marshes. Bulk density and percent organic matter content of peat fluctuated through time at all sites, suggesting that peat formation processes are dynamic and responsive to watershed conditions. The balance between inorganic sedimentation and organic accumulation at the sites also varied through time, indicating that marshes may rely more strongly on either inorganic or organic matter for peat formation at particular times in their existence. Mean carbon sequestration rates found in this study (0. 38-0. 79 Mg C ha-1 year-1) were similar to other long-term estimates for temperate peatlands. ?? 2011 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (outside the USA).