Abstract

Lithostratigraphic and radiocarbon data from the inland section of Pattagansett River Marsh, Connecticut, show that this sheltered part of the salt marsh underwent significant erosion twice during the past 600 yr, each time followed by rapid and complete infilling of the eroded space with tidal mud and low marsh and high marsh peat. We argue that the erosion cannot be attributed to increases in tidal prism or to lateral migration of tidal channels. The ±2σ age range (A.D. 1390–1470) for the first low marsh growth in the older regressive sequence agrees well with the age range (A.D. 1400–1440) for a hurricane deposit 60 km to the east. The younger regressive sequence is dated with the greatest probability to the period A.D. 1640–1670, i.e., shortly after the hurricanes of A.D. 1635 and 1638. Our conclusion that the most likely cause of the erosion was hurricane activity is relevant to paleostorm research and the study of marsh sensitivity to and recovery from storm erosion.

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