Date of Award

Summer 8-4-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Earth and Environmental Sciences


Earth and Environmental Sciences

Major Professor

Kulp, Mark Alan

Second Advisor

Georgiou, Ioannis T.

Third Advisor

Miner, Michael D.


Many recent studies have sought to understand the response of barrier islands and their attendant marshes to sea level rise. The Mississippi River delta plain, specifically the Chandeleur Islands and associated interior wetlands in eastern Louisiana, serves as an excellent natural laboratory for studying these responses. This region is presently undergoing the highest rates of shoreline erosion (> 15 m yr -1) in North America as wetlands are converted to open water in a regime of subsidence-driven rapid relative sea-level rise (~1 cm yr-1). Three conceptual models were developed based on the geomorphic relationships observed in the marsh that describe and predict shoreline processes as the Chandeleur Islands continue to disintegrate and submerge. These models indicate that shells are the dominant shoreline-forming material in the marsh due to the lack of sand-rich strata in the subsurface of the marsh.


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