Species-dependent variation in geotechnical properties and erodibility of salt marsh sediments

Evans, Ben, Brooks, Helen, Carr, Simon, Chirol, Clementine, Christie, Elizabeth, Kirkham, Matthew, Moeller, Iris, Royse, Katherine, Shears, Olivia, Spencer, Kate and Spencer, Thomas (2020) Species-dependent variation in geotechnical properties and erodibility of salt marsh sediments. In: EGU General Assembly 2020, 3rd - 8th May 2020, Vienna. (Unpublished) Full text not available from this repository.

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Abstract

Salt marshes provide diverse ecosystem services including coastal protection, habitat provision and carbon sequestration. The loss of salt marshes is a phenomenon that is observable on a global scale and is of great socioeconomic concern due to the substantial benefits these environments provide. The causes of spatial variability in rates of marsh loss are inadequately understood for the purposes of predicting future ecosystem functions and distributions in the context of global environmental change.

We investigate the relationship between vegetation of different genera and the mechanical properties of the substrate. We couple in-situ and laboratory tests of substrate geotechnical properties with micro-CT imaging of undisturbed root network structures to assess the contribution of three halophytes to sediment stability. We investigate the role of Puccinellia spp., Spartina spp. and Salicornia spp. in the modification of geotechnical parameters such as critical shear strength and cohesion when compared to un-vegetated sediments. We then compare these effects between clay-rich and sandy contexts on the East and West coasts of the United Kingdom respectively.

We find that the three genera are characterised by different root network morphologies which, in part, explain the differences that we observe between the geotechnical properties of sediments colonised by these contrasting vegetation types. The presence of roots within the sediment structure increases the cohesion, as measured using a laboratory shear box test, when compared to bare sediment, with the magnitude of this effect varying by root morphology and sedimentology. In-situ shear vane tests reveal a localised spatial variability in sediment shear strength that is related to halophyte species distributions. This allows multispectral UAV imagery to be used to map species distributions and thereby infer a component of the sediment’s vulnerability to erosion that supports the prediction of future marsh distributions and, ultimately, ecosystem service provision.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Departments: Forestry and Conservation
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
SWORD Depositor: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2020 09:46
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2020 09:46
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/5485

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