By Kyelee Spence
Hello NERRds! My name is Kyelee Spence and I am an intern in the communication department at GTM Research Reserve. I sat down with Research Director Nikki Dix and discussed an experiment that was done during Hurricane Ian. It involves a square tile, sediment and the marsh. Follow along as we take you through the experiment and its noteworthy findings!
We Floridians are way too familiar with hurricane season and the inconveniences these events can bring. Hurricane Ian brought an abundance of flooding, debris and damage across the state, but for GTM Research Reserve, it shed light on a new way to study sediment accumulation in coastal wetlands! The method that GTM researchers used during Hurricane Ian is referred to as ‘sediment tiling’.
Before Hurricane Ian hit, researchers placed 96 tiles on long-term marsh monitoring sites throughout the reserve. After approximately three weeks, they retrieved the tiles and sediment measurements were taken from them. To determine the role that Hurricane Ian played in sediment delivery to the marshes, researchers placed another 96 tiles at the marsh monitoring sites to measure sediment accretion after Ian for three storm-free weeks. University of North Florida Assistant Professor, Scott Jones, and his students dried and weighed sediment samples to measure grams of sediment accumulated per day on each tile. Researchers found more sediment accumulated during the storm deployment, and the tiles closer to the marsh edges accumulated more sediment than those that were further back inside the marsh.
Data from this preliminary study is a proof of concept for the sediment tiling method and will be used in grant proposals to fund a larger study throughout the reserve. Sediment accumulation in coastal wetlands is an important process in building elevation and resilience when dealing with storms and sea level rise. Understanding sediment accretion patterns, therefore, is critical for informing future coastal wetland resilience projects!