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Barrier island migration dominates ecogeomorphic feedbacks and drives salt marsh loss along the Virginia Atlantic Coast, USA

Charles D. Deaton, Christopher J. Hein and Matthew L. Kirwan
Barrier island migration dominates ecogeomorphic feedbacks and drives salt marsh loss along the Virginia Atlantic Coast, USA
Geology (Boulder) (December 2016) 45 (2): 123-126

Abstract

Coupling between barrier islands and their associated backbarrier environments (salt marsh, tidal flats) leads to complex ecogeomorphic feedbacks that are proposed to control the response of barrier island systems to relative sea-level rise. This study tests the applicability of these still-theoretical concepts through investigation of the Virginia barrier islands (eastern United States), which are located in an area of accelerated sea-level rise. Using historical maps and photographs from A.D. 1851 to 2010, we determine that rapid landward island migration (1-6 m yr (super -1) ) is leading to backbarrier area reduction and large-scale salt marsh loss (63 km (super 2) or 19%) at a rate of 0.45 km (super 2) yr (super -1) . Landward barrier island migration far outpaces upland marsh migration and is responsible for 51% of marsh loss; the remainder is due to backbarrier processes (e.g., edge erosion). In direct contrast to proposed ecogeomorphic feedbacks linking barrier island and backbarrier environments, shoreline retreat rates were not related to changes in backbarrier marsh, open-water areas, or tidal prism. Rather, these results indicate that, for barrier island systems already undergoing migration, the primary barrier-backbarrier coupling is the loss of marsh and tidal-flat area because of barrier island migration.


ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Coden: GLGYBA
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 45
Serial Issue: 2
Title: Barrier island migration dominates ecogeomorphic feedbacks and drives salt marsh loss along the Virginia Atlantic Coast, USA
Affiliation: College of William and Mary, Department of Geology, Williamsburg, VA, United States
Pages: 123-126
Published: 20161208
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 33
Accession Number: 2017-005943
Categories: Quaternary geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
N37°08'60" - N39°40'00", W76°20'60" - W75°04'00"
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201705
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