Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 871-892

First online:

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

  • Judith Z. DrexlerAffiliated withUS Geological Survey, California Water Science Center Email author 
  • , Christian S. de FontaineAffiliated withUS Geological Survey, California Water Science Center
  • , Thomas A. BrownAffiliated withCenter for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory L-397

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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.


Autocompaction Radiocarbon age determination Sea level rise Soil volume Tidal freshwater marsh Vertical accretion