Paper No. 19-7
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM
INVESTIGATING THE EVOLUTION OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SALT MARSHES: A FACIES MODEL TO UNDERSTAND THE INFLUENCE OF SEISMIC EVENTS ON ENVIRONMENTAL RESILIENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY
Only 10-20% of the US Pacific coast is estimated to be suitable for marsh development. In southern California specifically, marshes are disappearing ecosystems due to high population and urbanization. The future environmental impacts from climate change on these ecosystems are complicated not only by anthropogenic influences, but also by seismic activity in the region. In general, marsh evolution and response to seismic activity has yet to be fully explored in southern California. This study aims to develop a sediment facies model for salt marsh evolution in southern California by utilizing the salt marshes of the Seal Beach Wetlands (SBW). The SBW is an ideal location to develop the facies model because it straddles the active Newport-Inglewood Fault Zone. We collected sediment cores from the SBW that underwent a variety of sedimentological and geochemical analyses including grain size, X-Ray Fluorescence core scanning, magnetic susceptibility, and loss-on-ignition.. The results show a facies model consisting of sequences of marsh accretion punctuated by seismic events. These seismic events caused the marsh to subside, effectively re-setting marsh development from peat generation at a vegetated marsh state, to subtidal to intertidal mud deposition. The model also allowed us to qualify and quantify marsh recovery as inferred from event intensity, where what we perceived as more intense events resulted in more significant ecosystem disturbances and longer recovery times. Understanding this interplay between seismic activity and marsh development highlights the fragile nature of these ecosystems to climate change and sea level rise, as these stresses will only become amplified by seismic events.