Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Shoreline retreat of the Corte Madera marshes, 1853 to 2016, Marin County, California

July 14, 2020

The greater San Francisco Bay estuary, prior to human intervention, encompassed about 2,200 km2 of tidal and salt marshes. Over time, these areas became increasingly diked, developed, and altered from their natural state. In addition, natural forces are always driving a continually shifting equilibrium.

This study area, the Corte Madera marshes, is a tidal marsh or wetland located in southeastern Marin County, and it borders an embayment of central San Francisco Bay along about 2.8 km of shoreline. Most of this shoreline is located within the Corte Madera Marsh Ecological Reserve, managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Other areas within the marsh include (1) unincorporated Greenbrae (at the boardwalk), (2) diked land (that is, isolated from tidal action) owned by the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, and (3) urbanized areas such as in the Mariner Cove subdivision of Corte Madera. The present tidal marsh area was historically subdivided into the following informally named tracts, listed from north to south: Heerdt marsh, north Muzzi marsh, inner and outer Muzzi marshes, Marta’s marsh, and Triangle marsh.

The purpose of this study is to derive the magnitudes and rates of shoreline change (both erosion and accretion) for the Corte Madera shoreline, with particular emphasis on the time period from 1931 to 2016. The rates of change are then related to different shoreline types (that is, natural or diked) and (or) locations on the shoreline.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Shoreline retreat of the Corte Madera marshes, 1853 to 2016, Marin County, California
DOI 10.3133/ofr20201074
Authors Bradley A. Carkin, Robert E. Kayen, Florence L. Wong
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2020-1074
Index ID ofr20201074
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center