Report

Wetland Sedimentation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

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Science  20 Oct 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5798, pp. 449-452
DOI: 10.1126/science.1129116

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Abstract

More than 131 × 106 metric tons (MT) of inorganic sediments accumulated in coastal wetlands when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita crossed the Louisiana coast in 2005, plus another 281 × 106 MT when accumulation was prorated for open water area. The annualized combined amount of inorganic sediments per hurricane equals (i) 12% of the Mississippi River's suspended load, (ii) 5.5 times the inorganic load delivered by overbank flooding before flood protection levees were constructed, and (iii) 227 times the amount introduced by a river diversion built for wetland restoration. The accumulation from hurricanes is sufficient to account for all the inorganic sediments in healthy saltmarsh wetlands.

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