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Sediment delivery to marsh platforms minimized by source decoupling and flux convergence

July 27, 2020

Sediment supply is a primary factor in determining marsh response to sea level rise and is typically approximated through high‐resolution measurements of suspended sediment concentrations (SSCs) from adjacent tidal channels. However, understanding sediment transport across the marsh itself remains limited by discontinuous measurements of SSC over individual tidal cycles. Here, we use an array of optical turbidity sensors to build a long‐term, continuous record of SSC across a marsh platform and adjacent tidal channel. We find that channel and marsh concentrations are correlated (i.e., coupled) within tidal cycles but are largely decoupled over longer time scales. We also find that net sediment fluxes decline to near zero within 10 m of the marsh edge. Together, these results suggest that large sections of the marsh platform receive minimal sediment independent of flooding frequency or channel sediment supply. Marsh‐centric, as opposed to channel‐centric, measures of sediment supply may better characterize marsh platform vulnerability.