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Master of Science (M.S.)

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Spatial and temaprat patterns, Floodplain tidal Ponds, Flood tide, Fine-grained sediments, Associated contaminants, Deposition rates, tidal pumping, Truncated stratigraphy.


In this study I assess spatial and temporal patterns of sediment deposition in Pecausett Pond, located along the tidal extent of the Connecticut River, in order to assess the role of tides in the transport and storage of sediment and associated contaminants within floodplain tidal ponds. Findings reveal that tidal ponds have significantly higher rates of sedimentation compared to neighboring marshes due to the fact that these ponds have more accommodation space and receive uninterrupted tidal exchange with the main river. Tidal tie channels introduce a pulse of suspended sediment and contaminants from the main river into these ponds each flood tide, with sedimentation rates fast enough to allow settling before the subsequent ebb tide can transport these sediments back to the main river (i.e. tidal pumping). Some studies performed on the tidal floodplain of the Connecticut River show high deposition rates and have attributed periods of high accumulation to anomalously high river discharge events. However, this project shows that tides are more likely the major mechanism responsible for transporting and storing sediment and associated contaminants at backwater sites located along the tidal floodplain. Deposition rates in this 3-4 m deep pond exceed 2 cm/yr. These rates are far too high to maintain equilibrium morphology for much longer. However, ground penetrating radar surveys from the study site reveal truncated stratigraphy common to erosional unconformities, which suggest that mechanisms for sediment remobilization and removal may exist. Periods of episodic erosion therefore may be helping to maintain the morphology in this shallow environment, and allow for the high rates of short-term deposition. Further, a sudden increase in percent inorganic potentially associated with the opening or clearance of the tie-channel is observed at a sediment depth approximately between 1.9 to 2.2 m. A radiocarbon date obtained below this transition is consistent with a significant drop in sedimentation prior to this tie-channel development. High rates of sedimentation in Pecausett Pond are therefore likely relatively recent phenomena, transpiring over the last few centuries following early colonization.


First Advisor

Jonathan D Woodruff