Applications for Assessing Sediment Sources in Back-barrier Systems

Thesis or Dissertation Resource
September 2019
Ladlow-thesis cover


In order to improve our understanding of present and future coastal environmental change, we look into the past using sediment that accumulates in coastal environments. We have done this for two disparate systems: a back-barrier lagoon in southwestern Japan, and freshwater tidal marshes along the Hudson River, New York, USA. In Japan, we used a 2,500-year sediment record to investigate coastal flood risk from tsunamis and typhoons. This is a critical area of study to better understand the spatial and temporal variability of these hazards in Japan. In the Hudson River we looked at modern (since 1800) deposition of sediment in anthropogenically constructed embayments that have formed tidal wetlands in the last few centuries. A better understanding of the factors that have attributed to these successful tidal marsh systems in the past can help inform future management decisions in the face of future sea level rise. Studying the history of coastal systems using the sediment record is a valuable tool for assessing hazard risk and habitat loss in the present and future.

About this document

This 2019 thesis was written by Caroline Ladlow in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Geology in the Department of Geosciences at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Caroline's research was partially supported by a Sciene Collaborative project. Her field data was used to better understand marsh formation and sediment movement in the Hudson River Estuary and evaluate how removing dams in the watershed could impact sediment supply and resilience of downstream coastal marshes.


Ladlow, Caroline G. 2019. Applications for assessing sediment sources in back-barrier systems. Master's thesis, University of Massachusetts Amherst. 840 p. Available at:

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