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CSAP Students, Projects Announced

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) is continuing its commitment to the Coastal Science Assistantship Program (CSAP). This program provides support for Master of Science students involved in science or engineering research relevant to Louisiana coastal protection efforts. This collaboration offers the dual benefit of engaging students in CPRA activities while providing for potential recruitment of qualified personnel for the agency.

The Louisiana Sea Grant College Program (LSG) administers these assistantships, which are available to all Louisiana university faculty, in an effort to recruit outstanding students to coastal restoration-related research. Up to four new students are funded annually, based on review of proposals, with an award of $25,000 each for up to three years. The newest recipients are:

Photo: Adam GartelmanAdam Gartelman, Louisiana State University (LSU), College of the Coast & Environment
Major professor: Kehui Xu (LSU)
Title: Quantifying Erosional Process in Sediment Diversion Receiving Basins

The diversion of sediment-laden river water into adjacent basins is often recommended as a coastal restoration method, but the erosional processes occurring in those basins is not well studied. Current predictions for diversion effectiveness need stratigraphy and erodibility data to be robust and accurate. Gartelmen will work to better understand the super shallow water stratigraphy, the marsh edge erodibility and the marsh edge morphology in middle Barataria Bay and middle Breton Sound, both near and farther from the diversion site. This work will add to a growing volume of valuable data on the erosional processes that must occur before the new lands are built in Barataria Bay.

Photo: Omar Shahrear ApuOmar Shahrear Apu, Louisiana Tech University, Department of Civil Engineering
Major professor: Jay Wang (Louisiana Tech University)
Title: Development of a standardized (American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM), repeatable, and consistent geotechnical laboratory testing procedure for the Low Stress Consolidation Test for the Marsh Fill

Marsh creation projects make up a large part of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan, however, there can be high subsidence of fine-grained soils dredged from the river. To better understand how these sediments will settle and consolidate, Apu will develop a standardized test for the moisture content, grain size distribution and specific gravity of soils. Since regular, soft clay differs from the exceedingly soft dredged fill, different transportation and pumping processing procedures may need to be considered when creating marshes. The purpose of Apu’s research is to determine where the conventional procedures must be modified to handle extremely soft dredged fill material.

Photo: Allison HaertlingAllison Heartling, The University of New Orleans, College of Liberal Arts
Major professor: Marla Nelson (UNO)
Title: Planning for Population Loss in Coastal Louisiana

In the face of coastal land loss, more advantaged residents tend to relocate leaving behind the increasingly poor and elderly. The community composition will become further altered by subsequent declining tax revenues, reduced economic activities, increased blight, fewer resources and changes to local culture and heritage. Heartling will examine the changing population dynamics of Terrebonne Parish and resulting physical, social and fiscal impacts. This research seeks to identify the current and anticipated impacts of persistent population loss on coastal communities and the planning approaches that can be used to maintain existing infrastructure and services with a decreasing tax base.

Photo: Nick SchulerNick Schuler, Louisiana State University (LSU), Department of Geology & Geophysics
Major professor: Karen Luttrell (LSU)
Title: Quantifying variability in subsidence patterns related to seasonal surface loads across coastal Louisiana

Subsidence rates are not uniform across Louisiana. Variations in sedimentation, erosion, compaction, changing hydrologic load and tectonic processes can result in regional and temporal differences in subsidence rates. Schuler will identify and quantify the sources of this geologic patchiness by analyzing variables like uplift, sediment loading and seasonal flooding in an effort to better understand subsidence rates across the state. These results will help reduce uncertainty regarding the geologic components of subsidence, which will result in more effective implementation of Louisiana Coastal Master Plan projects helping current and future efforts to sustain coastal ecosystems, safeguard coastal populations and protect vital economic and cultural resources.