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Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center Home > Estuarine Physical Response to Storms > Study Sites > Chincoteague Bay

Estuarine Physical Response to Storms

Shoreline erosion as a source of sediment

Storm induced erosion of marsh shorelines can provide significant quantities of sediment to the bay altering the deposition patterns.


Surface grab sampling

Surface sediments will be analyzed for various physical parameters that will be used as initial conditions in hydrodynamic and sediment transport models.


Organic Matter in surface sediment, Chincoteague Bay

Map showing the sampling locations for Chincoteague Bay. Colors of the symbols reflect the percentage of organic matter (determined by burning sediment at 550oC) in sediments from Chincoteague Bay. Note that the areas proximal to the mainland and back-barrier marshes generally have the highest OM content.


Chincoteague Bay

The barrier beaches and wetlands of Assateague Island, MD, were impacted by Sandy. Chincoteague Bay estuary’s eastern barrier-island shoreline experienced erosion and overwash. These storm-driven changes in estuarine morphology may have altered water quality and modified estuarine processes such as water circulation and transport of sediment and nutrients.

In the first phase of this project, time-series data including water level, velocity, salinity, suspended-sediment concentration, light attenuation, chlorophyll-a, dissolved organic matter, and wave parameters will be collected at multiple sites within the Chincoteague Bay estuary and in wetland channels. In addition, net sediment fluxes to two wetland complexes within the estuary will be determined. Finally, surface sediments cores in select areas of the throughout much of the bay will be collected and analyzed for grain size, organic matter content, bulk density, and water content.

The second phase of the project will include numerical modeling and data analysis of the Chincoteague Bay estuary that will result in stratigraphic and depositional maps as well as updated hydrodynamic and sediment-transport models of the estuary. All of these tools will help to evaluate and forecast storm consequences, informing management efforts to assess ecological vulnerability and to design recovery strategies that promote long-term resilience in the estuarine environment.

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