Impacts of Land-Use Change on Sedimentation in Tidal Creeks of North Carolina, USA
D. Reide Corbett, J.P. Walsh, Yifei Zhao

Tidal creeks act as a gateway between uplands and marshes to estuaries and larger coastal waters. These smaller water bodies are influenced by freshwater flows running off the landscape and the constant ebb and flow of the salty ocean. These ecosystems are important habitat, act as an initial �filter� of water from the landscape to the ocean and as a buffer to storm surge inundation. The physical and biological dynamics of this ecosystem are intricately connected. Changes that occur at that landward (e.g., stormwater runoff, shoreline hardening, land clearing) and seaward (e.g., trawling, sea level change) ends of this system may alter the resilience of these habitats in the future.Changes in shoreline and land-use were coupled with tracers of the sedimentary record from three tidal creek systems (Oyster, Broad, and Hawkins Creek) of central coastal North Carolinato provide valuable data relevant to the management of coastal systems. There was a clear difference in development across the systems, highest in Hawkins and lowest in Oyster Creeks. Shoreline change rates were highly erosive in Hawkins Creek, with little change in the other basins. Sediment accumulation rates in all tidal creeks exceed that of relative sea level rise, leading to a slow infilling of the tidal basins. Organic matter tracers suggest some minor increases in organic carbon and nitrogen storage, particularly in the heads of the creeks, but no large fluctuations in the source of material being deposited over decadal timescales.Finally, the timing of the measured change in accumulation rates in Oyster and Broad Creeks may be related to development of the surrounding region.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jges.v4n2a1