Floodplain sediment storage


Anna Jalowska has been monitoring sediment storage on the Roanoke River floodplain for about three years.  She has deployed feldspar marker beds and water-level loggers from the mouth of the river near Albemarle Sound to about 15 km up river on the floodplain.  Her results show that floodplain sedimentation is dynamic.  Some months she measures one or two centimeters of deposition, while other months that same amount of sediment has been eroded.  During this trip in November, Anna’s primary adviser, Brent McKee, sampled about 1 meter of mud from the thalweg of the Roanoke River.  The river channel itself could be an important temporary-storage site for sediment.  Sediment-transport routes to basins are not direct; there are many layovers and at each stop the sediment is slightly altered.

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Justin Ridge selected for NCSG and NCCR’s coastal research fellowship

Captain Ridge

Justin Ridge just learned that he was awarded a North Carolina Sea Grant and N.C. Coastal Reserve’s Coastal Research Fellowship for his proposal entitled: LANDSCAPE CONNECTIVITY INFLUENCES GROWTH AND ACCRETION IN TEMPERATE BIOGENIC REEFS AND ADJACENT SALT MARSHES.  The fellowship is designed to foster research within the North Carolina Coastal Reserve system.  He is one of two recipients to receive up to $10,000 of funding to be spent in the 2014 calendar year.  His research will take place in the Rachel Carson National Estuarine Research Reserve.  Congratulations, Justin!  By the way, if you are interested in helping Justin with the project, he is looking for an undergraduate student or recent graduate to work on the project with him this summer at IMS.  Contact Justin if you are interested.

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Teacher workshop focused on intertidal habitats

We are taking applications from middle and high school science teachers to participate in a workshop at IMS in the Spring of 2014.  The goal is to create lesson plans using data-rich movies of intertidal habitats with emphasis on fish utilization.  We are still working on the first cut of the movies, but they will be ready by the time of the workshop.  Please pass the word around and visit the website for more information by clicking on the image below.fishy

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Oyster-reef bit airs on Quest, The Science of Sustainability

Back in July we spent the day with David Huppert, who was producing a video story on oyster-reef restoration for the PBS show Quest.  He tagged along with us while we collected some laser-scanning data from a natural reef near Shackleford Banks, NC.  Click on the image below to view the video.  Thanks for including our work in your story, Dave.

Oyster Reef Restoration image

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Coring backbarrier marshes to measure carbon storage

Island overwash forms new intertidal substrate (washover fans) for saltmarsh colonization.  As a barrier island moves landward in response to sea-level rise, that marsh sediment will eventually be eroded on the shoreface.  To develop coastal carbon budgets, it is important to measure rates of marsh accretion and landward movement of the island.  We are collaborating with Brent McKee and Carolyn Currin to obtain those data.

Taking a 1-m long core near one of Carolyn Currin's SETs

Taking a 1-m long core near one of Carolyn Currin’s SETs

Ground surface after core extraction.

Ground surface after core extraction.

After the core is collected, we slice it up in 1 cm bins back at the lab.  It is difficult cutting through marsh grass so Ethan brought in an electric meat carver, which worked great.  Check out the movie of Dr. McKee using the meat carver (below).  $29.99 at Walmart or if you need to purchase it using a grant, UNC negotiated a special price of $200.00 with a government-approved vendor.  Watch the video below (or click here if it is not being displayed) of the core being sectioned and notice the variations in biomass down core.  Each frame is 1 cm down core starting at the ground surface.  The last few frames are below the marsh.



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IE class verifies Walther’s Law in the field


The Institute for the Environment (IE) class is learning about coastal geology this week by experiencing it first hand.  Walther’s Law tells us that the vertical succession of facies reflects lateral changes in environment.  That concept is an important part of the coastal geology foundation and we learned how to apply it by collecting a vibracore from an old flood-tidal delta deposit that was active 1800 AD.  The old flood-tidal delta is part of Bogue Banks, NC and is located just across the sound from IMS.  The IE class brilliantly identified sediments deposited in the salt marsh, flood-tidal delta, and Bogue Sound environments, all stacked on top of each other and sampled in our core.


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Field trip to Core, Shackleford, and Bogue Banks, NC


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The New River Estuary on a budget

We collected 8 cores from the New River Estuary to help our colleagues at VIMS and UCONN derive a carbon budget for the estuary.  Cores were collected using the R/V Jenny and transported to IMS for subsampling.  Brent McKee will be measuring sedimentation rates from the cores in his lab at Chapel Hill.  Others will be looking at the amount and type of carbon preserved in the estuary through time.

Cores ready for transport to the lab

Cores ready for transport to the lab.

Brent McKee commenting on the productive day we had.

Brent McKee commenting on the productive day we had.

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Research progresses at an oyster’s pace

Understanding how oyster reefs grow is important for restoration and predicting oyster-reef response to accelerated sea-level rise, degrading water quality, and harvesting.  In an attempt to map small-scale changes in oyster-reef morphology we are experimenting with terrestrial LIDAR.  Click on the link below to see a visualization of the reef (courtesy of Justin Ridge).  In two years we will revisit the reef and hopefully be able to resolve morphologic change.


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Imaging buried reefs in the North River Estuary


Justin at the ship’s helm.

We know there is a buried oyster reef below the bay floor because we sampled it in a core, but how large is the reef and how rapidly did it grow?  To help answer that question, Justin and I embarked on day-long adventure collecting CHIRP data in a grid pattern around where we sampled the reef.  I’ve imaged oyster reefs very clearly in other places, but watching these data scroll across the computer screen in the field was a bit disappointing because the reef was not always easy to identify.  The North River Estuary is very shallow, about 1 m deep at high tide, which explains our choice of research vessel.  One thing I did learn is that Justin is an amazing boat driver at 2.5 knots.  The spacing between our lines was only 100 m.


The North River Estuary and the grid of data we collected. Look at that fish in the water.


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