Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 855–870

Stratigraphic and Ecophysical Characterizations of Salt Pools: Dynamic Landforms of the Webhannet Salt Marsh, Wells, ME, USA


    • Program in Ecology and Environmental ScienceUniversity of Maine
  • Joseph T. Kelley
    • Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of Maine
  • Arie Croitoru
    • Department of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of Alberta
  • Michele Dionne
    • Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • Daniel F. Belknap
    • Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of Maine
  • Robert Steneck
    • School of Marine SciencesUniversity of Maine

DOI: 10.1007/s12237-009-9203-7

Cite this article as:
Wilson, K.R., Kelley, J.T., Croitoru, A. et al. Estuaries and Coasts (2009) 32: 855. doi:10.1007/s12237-009-9203-7


Salt pools are water-filled depressions common to north-temperate salt marshes. In Wells, ME, USA, cores reveal a unique salt pool signature consisting of water-saturated dark-gray mud often containing fragments of Ruppia maritima. Cores through pool sediment reenter salt marsh peat, not tidal flat sediment, demonstrating that most pools are of secondary origin. A principal component analysis of attribute data collected from 119 pools defines three distinct pool types: those with (1) surrounding high-marsh vegetation and thick heavily undercut banks (40% of the variance), (2) surrounding low-marsh vegetation and thicker slightly undercut banks (18% of the variance), and (3) surrounding low-marsh vegetation and less thick moderately undercut banks, containing R. maritima and a surficial drainage (15% of the variance). Cores and spatiotemporal analyses of aerial photographs between 1962 and 2003 reveal dramatic salt marsh surface dynamism suggesting that salt pools influence the geomorphological evolution of coastal marshes.


EcogeomorphologySea levelCoresAerial photographs

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© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2009