2004. ESTUARIES 27(1) In press.

Controls on Salt Marsh Accretion: A Test in Salt Marshes of Eastern Canada


   Abstract -- We use 137Cs-dating to determine vertical accretion rates of 15 salt marshes on the Bay of Fundy, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. Accretion rates are compared to a number of factors assumed to influence vertical marsh accretion: rates of relative sea-level-rise, climatic parameters (average daily temperatures and degree days) and latitude (related to insolation and day length), sediment characteristics (organic matter inventory, bulk, mineral, and organic matter density), distance of the core site from the nearest source of tidal waters, and the tidal range. Unique to our study is a consideration of climatic parameters and latitude, which should influence organic matter production, thus vertical accretion rates. Significant predictors of accretion rates (in order of importance) were found to be organic matter inventory, distance from a creek and range of mean tides. Contrary to conclusions from previous studies, we found that accretion rates decreased with increasing tidal range, probably because we considered a wider span of tidal ranges, from micro- to macrotidal. Although four marshes with low organic matter inventories also show a deficit in accretion with respect to relative sea-level-rise, organic matter is not limiting in two-thirds of the marshes studied - despite shorter growing seasons.

2003. Estuarine Research Federation.