Storm erosion during the past 2000 years along the north shore of Delaware Bay, USA

D.L. Nikitina, A.C. Kemp, B.P. Horton, C.H. Vane, O. van de Plassche, S.E. Engelhart

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The recent impacts of tropical cyclones and severe storms on the U.S. Atlantic coast brought into focus the need for extended records of storm activity from different geomorphologic settings. Such reconstructions are typically developed from sites that experienced repeated overwash of sand into low-energy, depositional environments. However, salt-marsh sediment may also preserve a record of repeated erosion from tropical cyclones and storms. We describe late Holocene sediments beneath the Sea Breeze salt marsh (Delaware Bay, New Jersey) from more than 200 gouge cores positioned along seven transects. The stratigraphic record documents at least seven depositional sequences consisting of salt-marsh peat and mud couplets that represent dramatic changes in sedimentation regime. There are a number of processes that could produce these stratigraphic sequences against a background of rising relative sea level including: lateral migration of tidal creeks; tidal channel network and/or drainage ditch expansion; changes in sediment delivery rates; rapid relative sea-level change; tsunami; and formation of salt pans. The abrupt contacts between the salt-marsh peat and overlying intertidal mud suggest that erosion of the peat was followed by rapid infilling of accommodation space. Correlation of erosional surfaces across 2.5km suggests a common mechanism and we propose that the erosion was caused by tropical cyclones and/or storms. We developed a chronology of repeated salt-marsh erosion and recovery using
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-172
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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