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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 provides the dual benefit of engaging students in CPRA activities while providing for potential recruitment of qualified personnel.

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:

Jack CadiganJack Cadigan, Louisiana State University (LSU) Department of Civil Engineering
Major professor: Navid Jafari (LSU)
Title: Comprehensive Sediment Balance of Marsh Creation Projects: From Hydraulic Dredging to Self-weight Consolidation

Hydraulic dredging appears prominently in the Coastal Master Plan – both in projects and in cost. It makes up approximately 60 percent of the cost for marsh creation projects. Despite its importance, there are still questions that can be answered to increase dredging efficiency. How does particle size affect it settling? Does it vary over time and space at a marsh creation area? Cadigan will attempt to answer these questions to allow CPRA to provide state-of-practice guidelines to the industry. Ultimately this is important, because more accurate estimates of dredged fill quantities will lead to reduced costs, increased efficiency and more successful ecological restoration in Louisiana.

Peter MatesPeter Mates, LSU, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences
Major professor: John White (LSU)
Title: Determining Pre-project Wetland Soil and Estuarine Sediment Physical Properties and Phosphorus Cycling in the area of Influence of the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion

Much attention is often given to carbon and nitrogen in wetlands, however, there is also a need to understand phosphorus. Excess phosphorus boosts algae production which can lead to algal blooms that are harmful to animals, including humans. Mates will examine how sediment phosphorus varies in Barataria Bay – from the planned mid Barataria sediment diversion to vegetated coastal wetlands and the open bay. This will show how much phosphorus the system can take before becoming overburdened, potentially resulting in algal blooms. Determining how phosphorus is taken up and subsequently released, both during and post diversion, is critical to understanding how the receiving basin will respond to sediment diversions.

Jessica VillersJessica Villers, University of New Orleans, Department of Earth and Environmental Science and the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences
Major professor: Ioannis Georgiou (UNO)
Title: Water and Sediment Fluxes in Restored and Unrestored Marsh Shorelines

Shoreline erosion is a natural, often undesirable, process. However, as sediment leaves one shoreline, it may move to an adjacent wetland or the wetland’s interior. As waves attack the marsh edge, that lost material can be resuspended to the marsh surface, aiding the vertical growth (or accretion) of the marsh platform and its sustainability. Villers will investigate the impact of different shoreline restoration methods on natural marsh accretion processes. The ability of coastal marshes to maintain position and function will depend upon the buildup of the marsh overtime. Ultimately, this research will inform restoration decisions, identify regional trends in shoreline dynamics and help prioritize future locations for restoration.

To Be Named, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium
Major professor: Alex Kolker (LUMCON)
Title: A Changing Landscape in a Future Without Action: The Geological Evolution of the Southeast Mississippi River Delta

The southeast portion of the Mississippi River Delta is a controversial area. Large amounts of water and sediment pass through, but the flows are poorly controlled. And this is near the proposed lower Breton diversion, leading many to debate whether land will subsequently be built. To help address these disparities, the student will study this region to understand the processes governing river/delta fluxes in an unimpeded environment, how freshwater and sediments move in this dynamic region and the ascertain the potential for land emergence. This work will provide critical information on one of the most dynamic and poorly understood regions of the Mississippi River Delta.