Plum Island Ecosystems LTER Database

Acceptance and utilization of LTER data requires that:

(1) The Principal Investigator be sent a notice stating reasons for acquiring any data and a description of the publication intentions.
(2) The Principal Investigator of the data set be sent a copy of the report or manuscript prior to submission and be adequately cited in any resultant publications.
(3) A copy of any resultant publications should be sent to:

Principal Investigator
Ecosystems Center
Marine Biological Laboratory
7 MBL St.
Woods Hole, MA 02543

Dataset URLs:METADATA: HTML, Rich Text, XML(EML compliant)
DATA: Comma Delimited, Excel file with Metadata and data
Dataset ID:MAR-VCR-ChimneyPoleMarshErosion.01
Dataset Title:Marsh boundary of marsh bordering in Chimney Pole, Virginia Coast Reserve
Investigator 1: 
First Name:Nicoletta
Last Name:Leonardi
Address line 1:675 Commonwealth avenue
Address line 2:
Address line 3:
Zip Code:02446
Investigator 2: 
First Name:Sergio
Last Name:Fagherazzi
Address line 1:675 Commonwealth avenue
Zip Code:02446
Associate Investigators:
Keywords:LTER, PIE, VCR, Plum Island Ecosystems, Virginia Coast Reserve Ecosystems, disturbance, salt marsh, marsh boundary, erosion
Abstract:We present high-resolution field measurements of five sites along the United States Atlantic Coast, and cellular automata simulations, to investigate the erosion of marsh boundaries by wave action. According to our analysis, when salt marshes are exposed to high wave energy conditions their boundaries erode uniformly. The resulting erosion events follow a Gaussian distribution, yielding a relatively smooth shoreline. On the contrary, when wind waves are weak and the local marsh resistance is strong, jagged marsh boundaries form. In this case, erosion episodes have a long-tailed frequency magnitude distribution with numerous low-magnitude events, but also high-magnitude episodes. The logarithmic frequency magnitude distribution suggests the emergence of a critical state for marsh boundaries, which would make the prediction of failure events impossible. Internal physical processes allowing salt marshes to reach this critical state are geotechnical and biological, and related to the nonhomogeneity of salt marshes whose material discontinuities act as stress raisers.
Contact: Plum Island Ecosystems LTER Information Manager
The Ecosystems Center
Marine Biological Lab
7 MBL St
Woods Hole, MA 02543
Phone (508) 289 7485
Online URL:
Data File URL
Data File Name MAR-VCR-ChimneyPoleMarshErosion
Beginning Date 3/1/2008
End Date 8/31/2010
Number of Data Records 434
Other Files to Reference MAR-SO-Stackyard-MarshErosion, MAR-SO-RefugeNorth-MarshErosion, MAR-SO-RefugeSouth-MarshErosion, MAR-VCR-HogIsland-MarshErosion
Availability Status Type 1
Quality Control Information
Maintenance Description
Log of Changes: Version 01: September 23, 2015, data and metadata updates to comply with importation to Drupal and LTER PASTA. Used MarcrosExportEML_HTML (working)pie_excel2007_Jan2015.xlsm 1/15/15 4:26 PM for QA/QC to EML 2.1.0
RESEARCH LOCATION: MAR-VCR-ChimneyPoleMarshErosion Site 2
Geographic Description Marsh bordering Chimney Pole marsh, VCR LTER, Virginia  
Location Bounding Box    
West Bounding Coordinate    
East Bounding Coordinate    
North Bounding Coordinate    
South Bounding Coordinate    
OR if single point location    
Latitude 37.469232  
Longitude -75.71951  
Taxonomic Protocols
Organisms studied
Methods:Marsh contours have been tracked using a real time kinematic global positioning system and an electronic total station. Data were collected with an average resolution of 1 m. When marsh contours were characterized by significant variations in boundary geometry, measurements were taken as much as 20 cm apart. Marsh boundaries have been monitored every September from year 2008 to 2013 for three sites at the PIE LTER (Stackyard Rd, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge (North and South) in Plum Island Sound. For the two sites in the Virginia Coast Reserve (Hog Island and Chimney Pole), measurements were taken in March 2008 and August 2010. We define as magnitude of an erosion event, for a given year and for a certain point along the marsh boundary, the shortest distance of that point from the marsh boundary of the subsequent year.

Data Table

Variable Name Variable Description Units Measurement Scale Code Information Number Type DateTime Format Missing Value Code Missing Value Code Explanation
Year Month and year measurements were taken   datetime     MON-YYYY NA NA = not available
North_coordinate Relative North coordinate of one point of the marsh boundary meter ratio   real   NA NA = not available
East_coordinate Relative East coordinate of one point of the marsh boundary meter ratio   real   NA NA = not available
Z_coordinate Relative Z (elevation) coordinate of one point of the marsh boundary meter ratio   real   NA NA = not available