Date of Award

Summer 8-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Earth and Environmental Sciences


Earth and Environmental Sciences

Major Professor

Dr. Mark Kulp

Second Advisor

Dr. Ioanis Georgiu

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Mahon


Wetlands in coastal Louisiana account for 37% of total wetlands in the United States, yet account for 90% of the total wetland loss. Recent research shows the percent of Louisiana’s coastal wetland loss is decreasing, likely due to the lack of major hurricanes since 2008. The study area, Biloxi marsh, is located south of Lake Borgne and was formed by progradation of the St. Bernard delta complex. One unique geomorphologic feature of Biloxi marsh is the presence of oyster and clam shells, which wash onto the marsh platform and create shell ridges. Crassostrea virginica is the most common shell found in the area. Shell ridges can act as a buffer against erosion when immobile or suffocate marsh vegetation when mobile. Suffocation of vegetation can lead to the destabilization of the marsh platform due to waves being able to reach farther inland with no aboveground vegetation to dampen energy. The proposed work will build off existing work, examining how the ridges have changed through time. Land loss data will be compared to total area, length, and distribution of shell ridges to analyze if there is a trend, such as the presence of historic storm activity. One question this study hopes to answer is if there are any changes in shell ridge movement and/or erosion during cold front or tropical cyclone season. With this information the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana will have a better understanding of the life expectancy of Biloxi marsh as it is the main buffer against storms.


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