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On the erosive trail of a 14th and 15th century hurricane in Connecticut (USA) salt marshes.

O van de Plassche, A J Wright, K van der Borg, A F M de Jong


This paper examines if an erosive hiatus found in the peat stratigraphy and marsh-accumulation record from northwest Hammock River Marsh (HRM), Connecticut (CT) can be attributed to a 14th or a 15th century hurricane, each documented by a radiocarbon-dated overwash fan in Succotash Marsh (SM) (Rhode Island) about 90 km to the east. Given that (i) the best estimate age range for the 15th century overwash deposit in SM (1400-1440 cal AD, 2 sigma ) overlaps entirely with that for first plant growth after erosion at HRM (1390-1450 cal AD, 2 sigma ), while the best estimate age range for the 14th century overwash deposit (1290-1410 cal AD, 2 sigma ) overlaps just 10 yr, and (ii) interpretation of the available stratigraphic and sedimentary evidence from HRM suggests that a high-energy event offers the simplest explanation for the observed marsh erosion, we conclude that a plausible link exists between the 15th century hurricane and the marsh erosion in HRM. The best estimate age range for the 14th century hurricane appears to overlap for 91% with the age range for the first plant growth (1290-1400 cal AD, 2 sigma ) following marsh erosion in East River Marsh (CT), located about 12 km west of HRM. These results imply that erosive boundaries in salt-marsh peat deposits have potential as markers of past hurricane activity.


absolute age;C 14;carbon ;Cenozoic ;chronostratigraphy ;Connecticut ;cores ;dates ;deposition ;depositional environment;erosion ;Hammock River Marsh;Holocene ;hurricanes ;isotopes ;lithostratigraphy ;Middlesex County Connecticut;paleoenvironment ;paludal environment;Quaternary ;radioactive isotopes;sediments ;storm environment;stratigraphic boundary;terrestrial environment;United States;upper Holocene

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