Southeastern Section - 66th Annual Meeting - 2017

Paper No. 16-7
Presentation Time: 10:40 AM


O'DONNELL III, Robert J.1, HAWKES, Andrea D.1, ENGELHART, Simon E.2, HORTON, Benjamin P.3 and LANE, Chad S.4, (1)Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of North Carolina Wilmington, 5600 Marvin K. Moss Lane, Wilmington, NC 28409, (2)Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, Woodward Hall, 9 East Alumni Avenue, Kingston, RI 02881, (3)Sea Level Research, Department of Marine and Coastal Science, Rutgers University, 71 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, (4)Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of North Carolina Wilmington, 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403,

Bulk sedimentary δ13C and C/N values in salt marshes are indicative of the depositional environment and source of samples collected, as well as elevation based on vegetation zonation within the marsh. Through the construction of modern geochemical datasets collected along transects in coastal estuaries, quantitative paleoenvironmental analysis of past depositional environments and elevation within the tidal frame can be inferred. Estimates of past coseismic deformation along the Cascadian margin are currently reconstructed using microfossil assemblages. In stratigraphic sequences lacking microfossils, alternative proxies are needed and geochemistry has shown to have potential from initial studies in Oregon. This study uses the differing geochemical signatures of C3 and C4 plants, which have contrasting salinity tolerances and distributions in heterosaline habitats such as marshes, to reconstruct past changes in salinity as a function of tidal inundation. The result is a modern bulk sediment proxy database of δ13C, δ15N, TOC, and C/N signals from 13 saltmarshes along the the Cascadian margin, encompassing Northern (Vancouver Island), Central (Washington, USA), and Southern (Oregon, USA) regions of the subduction zone. A total of 269 bulk sediment samples and 14 saltmarsh plant species were collected and analyzed. Results revealed δ13C values ranging from -17.11 ± 0.14‰ to -32.25 ± 0.02‰ for sediments and -14.54 ± <0.02‰ to -31.51 ± 0.04 ‰ for plants. Bulk sedimentary δ13C values in the Northern region of Cascadia ranged from -19.57 ± 0.8‰ to -31.36 ± <0.02‰, with values ranging from -17.11 ± 0.15‰ to -30.66 ± 0.02‰ in the Central region and -19.09 ± 0.15‰ to -32.25 ± 0.02‰ for the Southern region. Station elevations (relative to MTL) ranged from 0.31m to 2.65m in the Northern region, from -0.80m to 2.74m in the Central region, and -0.31m to 2.54m in the Southern region. The range in isotopic signatures and elevations across the marsh surface enables the use of these data in paleoenvironmental models with a range of applications (tectonics, sea level, carbon cycling, etc). The development and utility of a local (Northern, Central, and Southern) versus regional database (entire suite of marshes) in paleoenvironmental modeling will be evaluated with applications to the reconstruction of coseismic deformation.