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Title: Fetch and distance from the bay control accretion and erosion patterns in Terrebonne marshes (Louisiana, USA)

Wetlands in the Mississippi River Delta are rapidly degrading. Sea level rise and low sediment supply are widely recognized as the two main factors contributing to land‐to‐water conversion. To determine what marsh areas are more resilient, it is fundamental to identify the drivers that regulate marsh accretion and degradation. In this study, a combination of field data and aerial images is used to determine these drivers in Terrebonne Bay, Louisiana, USA. We find that accretion and degradation patterns depend on whether the marsh is located inland in a sheltered area or facing open water. In the first case, the distance to the nearby channel is important, because during flooding of the marsh platform more sediment is deposited in the proximity of channel banks. The accretion rates of marshes facing open water are high and correlate to fetch, a proxy for the ability of waves to resuspend bottom sediment. These areas are more resilient to sea level rise, but waves are also the main mechanism of degradation, as these marshes tend to degrade by edge erosion. Consequently, we propose a bimodal evolution trajectory of the marshes in Terrebonne Bay: marshes close to the bay and facing open water accrete rapidly but are affected by lateral erosion due to waves, whereas sheltered marshes accrete slowly and degrade in large swathes due to insufficient sediment supply.

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Award ID(s):
1832221 1637630
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1455-1465
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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