Sea‐level dynamics, sediment availability, and marine energy are critical drivers of coastal wetland formation and persistence, but their roles as continental‐scale drivers remain unknown. We evaluated the timing and spatial variability of wetland formation from new and existing cores collected along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Most basal peat ages occurred after sea‐level rise slowed (after ~4,000 years before present), but predominance of sea‐level rise studies may skew age estimates toward older sites. Near‐coastal sites tended to be younger, indicating creation of wetlands through basin infilling and overwash events. Age distributions differed among regions, with younger wetlands in the northeast and southeast corresponding to European colonization and deforestation. Across all cores, wetland age correlated strongly with basal peat depth. Marsh age elucidates the complex interactions between sea‐level rise, sediment supply, and geomorphic setting in determining timing and location of marsh formation and future wetland persistence.
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