Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 871–892

Peat Accretion Histories During the Past 6,000 Years in Marshes of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, CA, USA


    • US Geological Survey, California Water Science Center
  • Christian S. de Fontaine
    • US Geological Survey, California Water Science Center
  • Thomas A. Brown
    • Center for Accelerator Mass SpectrometryLawrence Livermore National Laboratory L-397

DOI: 10.1007/s12237-009-9202-8

Cite this article as:
Drexler, J.Z., de Fontaine, C.S. & Brown, T.A. Estuaries and Coasts (2009) 32: 871. doi:10.1007/s12237-009-9202-8


The purpose of this study was to determine how vertical accretion rates in marshes vary through the millennia. Peat cores were collected in remnant and drained marshes in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta of California. Cubic smooth spline regression models were used to construct age–depth models and accretion histories for three remnant marshes. Estimated vertical accretion rates at these sites range from 0.03 to 0.49 cm year−1. The mean contribution of organic matter to soil volume at the remnant marsh sites is generally stable (4.73% to 6.94%), whereas the mean contribution of inorganic matter to soil volume has greater temporal variability (1.40% to 7.92%). The hydrogeomorphic position of each marsh largely determines the inorganic content of peat. Currently, the remnant marshes are keeping pace with sea level rise, but this balance may shift for at least one of the sites under future sea level rise scenarios.


AutocompactionRadiocarbon age determinationSea level riseSoil volumeTidal freshwater marshVertical accretion

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© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2009