Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

Cover image for Vol. 121 Issue 3

Impact Factor: 3.426

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2014: 19/175 (Geosciences Multidisciplinary)

Online ISSN: 2169-9011

Associated Title(s): Journal of Geophysical Research

New model describes toppling of salt marsh banks

Salt marshes are coastal habitats that store important nutrients and serve as shelter for many estuarial species. These habitats are threatened by rising seas and human expansion, so it has become increasingly important to improve models of how these habitats degrade.

There are many ways that salt marshes retreat naturally, including surface erosion or widespread slumping into the sea, via processes such as sliding or toppling. Studying the way the edge of a salt marsh erodes is important for determining morphological changes in the marsh, but, so far, no mechanical models exist that describe how toppling occurs.

Bendoni et al. present the first model for toppling induced by wind waves—waves of water pushed by the wind. The authors conducted laboratory experiments to investigate the effects of wind waves on salt marsh edges and found that failure occurs when water fills tension cracks, putting stress on the soil that causes it to fail. The authors then created a model based on their findings that replicates lab results well. These models may help improve salt marsh management strategies.

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