Abstract

We examine rates of salt marsh accumulation in three marshes of the outer Bay of Fundy. At each marsh we selected a site in the high marsh with similar vegetation, and thus similar elevation. Accretion rates were estimated by 137Cs, 210Pb, and pollen stratigraphy to estimate rates of change over periods of 30, 100, and ∼170 years, respectively. These rates are compared with records from the two closest tide gauges (Saint John, New Brunswick, and Eastport, Maine) to assess the balance of recent marsh accretion and sea-level change. Averaged marsh accretion rates have ranged from 1.3 ± 0.4 to 4.4 ± 1.6 mm·year−1 over the last two centuries. Recent rates are similar to the rate of sealevel change recorded at Eastport, Maine, suggesting that they are in step with recent sea-level change but very sensitive to short-term variation in relative sea level. Based on the pollen stratigraphy in the marsh sediments, the marsh accretion rate was higher during the late 18th to early 19th century. Higher rates probably were due to local increases in relative sea level as a result of neotectonic activity and may have been enhanced by increased sediment deposition through ice rafting.

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