Environmental Geology and Water Sciences

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 57–64 | Cite as

Marsh aggradation and sediment distribution along rapidly submerging Louisiana gulf coast

  • R. D. Delaune
  • W. H. PatrickJr.
  • C. J. Smith


A coastwide study of the relationship between marsh aggradation and water level changes along the rapidly deteriorating Louisiana gulf coast was conducted. Rate of vertical marsh accretion determined from137Cs dating was compared to water level changes or submergence. Results identified marsh locations that are not keeping pace with submergence. Coastwide vertical accretion rates on the order of 0.7–0.8 cm/yr are not sufficient to keep pace with water level increases occurring at rates in most locations of over 1.0 cm/yr. Submergence rates were four to five times greater than eustatic sea level change for the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana gulf coast marshes are likely to continue deteriorating unless means are implemented for distributing Mississippi River sediment to the marsh. It is estimated that sediment equivalent to less than 10 percent of the present annual suspended load of the Mississippi would provide enough sediment for marsh accretionary processes to compensate for submergence or water level increase.


Accretion Rate Water Level Change Suspended Load Coast Marsh Vertical Accretion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References Cited

  1. Adams, R. d., B. B. Barrett, J. H. Blackmon, B. W. Gane, and W. G. McIntire, 1976, Barataria Basin: Geologic processes and framework: Louisiana State University, Center for Wetland Resources, Baton Rouge, LA, Sea Grant publication no. LSU-T-76-006.Google Scholar
  2. Chabreck, R. H., 1981, The effect of coastal alternation on marsh plants,in D. F. Boesch, ed., Proceedings of the conference on coastal erosion and wetland modification in Louisiana: Causes, consequences and options: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Biological Services, FWS/OBS-82/59, p. 92–98.Google Scholar
  3. Craig, N. J., R. E. Turner, and J. W. Day, 1979, Land loss in coastal Louisiana (USA): Environ. Manag. v. 3, no. 2, p. 133–134.Google Scholar
  4. DeLaune, R. D., R. J. Buresh, and W. J. Patrick, Jr., 1978, Sedimentation rates determined by137Cs dating in a rapid accreting salt marsh: Nature v. 275, p. 532–533.Google Scholar
  5. DeLaune, R. D., R. H. Baumann, and J. G. Gosselink, 1983, Relationships among: vertical accretion, coastal submergence, and erosion in a Louisiana Gulf Coast marsh: J. Sediment. Petrol. v. 53, p. 147–157.Google Scholar
  6. DeLaune, R. D., S. R. Pezeshki, and W. H. Patrick, Jr., 1987, Response of coastal plants to increases in submergence and salinity. J. Coastal Res. v. 4, p. 535–546.Google Scholar
  7. Dunbar, J. B., L. D. Britsch, and E. B. Kemp, 1990, Land loss rates; report 2 Louisiana Chenier Plain: U.S. Army Engineer District, New Orleans, Technical Report GL-90-2, 35 p.Google Scholar
  8. Frazier, D. E., 1967, Recent deltaic deposits of the Mississippi River: Their development and chronology: Trans. Gulf Coast Assoc. Geol. Soc. v. 17, p. 287–315.Google Scholar
  9. Gagliano, S. M., 1981, Special report on marsh deterioration and land loss in the deltaic plain of coastal Louisiana. Presented to Frank Ashby, secretary, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Coastal Environments, Inc., Baton Rouge, LA.Google Scholar
  10. Gagliano, S. M., and J. L. F. Van Beek, 1970, Geologic and geomorphic aspects of deltaic processes, Mississippi delta system. Hydrologic and geologic studies of coastal Louisiana, Rept. No. 1: Coastal Resources Unit, Center for Wetland Resources, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.Google Scholar
  11. Gleason, M. L., D. A. Elmer, and W. H. Patrick, Jr., 1979, Effects of stem density upon sediment retention by salt marsh and cord grass,Spartina alterniflora Loisel. Estuaries v. 2, p. 271–273.Google Scholar
  12. Hatton, R. S., R. D. DeLaune, and W. H. Patrick, Jr., 1983, Sedimentation, accretion, and subsidence in marshes of Barataria Basin Louisiana: Limnol. Oceanogr. v. 28, no. 3, p. 494–502.Google Scholar
  13. Hicks, S. D., 1968, Sea level—a changing reference in surveying and mapping. Surv. Mapp. v. 28, p. 285–289.Google Scholar
  14. Jenne, E. A., and J. S. Wahlberg, 1968, Role of certain stream-sediment components in radio ion sorption. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 443-7, p. 71.Google Scholar
  15. Kolb, C. R., and J. W. Van Lopik, 1966, Depositional environments of the Mississippi River deltaic plain, southeastern Louisiana,in Shirley, M.L., ed., Deltas and their geologic framework: Houston, Houston Geological Society, p. 17–61.Google Scholar
  16. Meade, R. H., and R. S. Parker, 1985, Sediments in rivers of the United States. National Water Supply Summary: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply, Paper 2275.Google Scholar
  17. Penland, S., and K.E. Ramsey, 1990. Relative sea-level rise in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. J. Coastal Res. v. 6, p. 323–342.Google Scholar
  18. Pennington, W., R. S. Cambray, and E. H. Fisher, 1973, Observations on lake sediments using137Cs fallout as a tracer.Nature v. 242, p. 324–326.Google Scholar
  19. Robbins, J. A., and D. N. Edington, 1975, Determination of recent sedimentation rates in Lake Michigan using210Pb and137Cs: Geochim Cosmochim Acta v. 39, p. 285–304.Google Scholar
  20. Salinas, L. M., R. D. DeLaune, and W. H. Patrick, Jr., 1986, Changes occurring along a rapidly submerging coastal area: Louisiana, USA: J. Coastal Res. v. 2, no. 3, p. 269–284.Google Scholar
  21. Turner, R. E., and J. G. Gosselink, 1975, A note on standing crops ofSpartina alterniflora in Texas and Florida. Contrib. Mar. Sci. v. 19, p. 113–118.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. D. Delaune
    • 1
  • W. H. PatrickJr.
    • 1
  • C. J. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Wetland Biogeochemistry Institute Center for Wetland ResourcesLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

Personalised recommendations