Vanishing Islands: Seagrass & Sediment ErosionLatest update December 20, 2018 Started on October 23, 2018
The Chandeleur Islands are a chain of barrier islands in the northern Gulf of Mexico that support the only marine seagrass beds in Louisiana, USA, and are the sole location of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum across nearly 1,000 km of coastline from west Florida to central Texas. Over the past 150 years, land area of the Chandeleur Islands has decreased by over half, resulting in a decline of seagrass cover (Darnell et al., 2017).
This expedition aims to identify the processes that govern seagrass dieback and draw correlations between island erosion, wave energy change and seagrass meadow decline.
We plan to visit the islands seagrass meadows to monitor the degree of burial by measuring sand layer thickness in areas where seagrass beds are declining, and compare to areas that appear to be thriving. Additionally, we plan to document waves in these shallow environments to determine if the island loss allows for larger waves to increase sand transport and thus increase seagrass burial.
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