State of the Coast 2012 is unique among conferences because it focuses entirely on the challenges of coastal land loss in Louisiana and its possible solutions. With 800 attendees and more than 230 total presentations, no other forum comes close to matching the size and comprehensive nature of State of the Coast 2012.
Three Earth and Environmental Sciences students presented posters at the conference: Cyndhia Ramatchandirane, Krista Jankowski, and Jonathan Marshak. Cyndhia presented research suggesting that coastal lakes along the Chenier Plain in southwest Louisiana have infilled and converted into marshes in the last 50 years. The sedimentation processes appear to be natural, rather than diversion-induced. This natural marsh building process needs to be further investigated and incorporated into the Master Plan to restore critical habitats in southwest Louisiana.
Krista is investigating the multi-decadal to century scale marsh response to varying rates of relative sea-level rise over the past 8500 years. She is using a detailed stratigraphic analysis in association with sea-level index points from the Mississippi Delta. Her preliminary results identify marsh sustainability tipping points where the rate of sea-level rise overwhelms marshes and these landscapes are turned to open water.
Jon Marshak's project evaluated the effectiveness of vegetated swamp environments as river diversion sites by studying a natural analog for a river diversion called the Attakapas crevasse splay. Jonathan used grain size analysis of soil samples to characterize the lithic content of the splay and estimate its sediment trapping efficiency (STE). He found that the splay was much siltier than anticipated and that the Attakapas Splay environment had a conservative
STE of ~51%.
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