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Four CSAP 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’s students involved in 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.

Louisiana Sea Grant administers these assistantships — available to all Louisiana university faculty — to recruit outstanding students to coastal restoration-related research. Up to four new projects are funded annually with an award of $25,000 each for up to three years. The newest projects are:

The Effect of “Freshening” by Sediment Diversion Flow on the Porewater Salinity, Nutrient Availability and Water Quality Improvement Functions of Barataria Bay Marsh Soil
PI: John R. White, Louisiana State University (LSU)

Coastal restoration efforts in Louisiana rely on river re-connection with the coastal basins to deliver sediment to these subsiding (sinking) systems. Previous models show surface water salinity will be lower after the Mid-Barataria sediment diversion. The question remains, how will this change affect the wetland plants and the microbial pool (all of which control important processes within coastal wetlands) present within the basin’s soil? This project focuses on answering that question by collecting soil from several marsh types in Barataria Bay and simulate freshwater conditions and measure the soil salinity change over time. This project will also monitor the amount of river nitrogen removal from the microbes under these fresher conditions. Ultimately this research will reveal the impact of river sediment diversions on water quality and vegetation response to salinity changes in the basin and help improve predictive modeling into the future.

Quantifying Geotechnical Properties and Processes in the Fort St. Phillip Crevasse Complex: Implications to Sediment Diversions.
PI: Navid Jafari, Louisiana State University (LSU)

Sediment diversions are a way to help address Louisiana’s rapid coastal land loss. Diversions uniquely restore natural water flow, encourage land building sediment and cultivate marshes. This project focuses on investigating the effectiveness of diversions in both the Barataria and Breton Sound basins using the Fort St. Phillip crevasse as a natural surrogate. This project aims to develop and validate models predicting accuracy in sediment compressibility and erodibility and measure the amount of newly formed wetland. This project data will contribute to a growing database regarding erosional and consolidation processes before newly formed wetlands occur.

Can Ribbed Mussels Augment Coastal Restoration Projects in a World of Rising Seas?
PI: Brian Roberts, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON)

Louisiana is home to approximately 40 percent of the coastal salt marshes in the contiguous United States but also 80 percent of the nation’s coastal wetland loss as a result of high rates of relative sea level rise and other factors. While marsh creation and sediment diversions have become core components of the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, the use of living shorelines to further stabilize marshes and potentially enhance shoreline vegetation productivity has become another key tool. Ribbed mussels are rarely considered in coastal marsh restoration projects despite the potential for playing a critical role in supporting coastal marsh vegetation productivity and shoreline stability. This project aims to evaluate how ribbed mussels enhance living shoreline projects in natural and created marsh soils and how this might change as sea level continues to rise.

Quantifying Sediment Retention and Morphologic Evolution in the Fort St. Phillip Crevasse Complex: Implications to Sediment Diversions
PI: Ehab Meselhe, Tulane University

Sediment diversions represent one of the strategies to help address Louisiana’s rapid coastal land loss. Diversions uniquely restore natural water flow, encourage land building and provide nourishment to existing marshes. This project will use dual observation-modeling approach to improve the understanding of the role stratigraphy plays in the formation and resilience of new and existing wetland areas. This project, collaboratively with Navid Jafari’s project titled “Quantifying Geotechnical Properties and Processes in the Fort St. Phillip Crevasse Complex: Implications to Sediment Diversions,” will focus on the development of numerical models supported and validated by field observations and laboratory testing. The main goal of this project is to reduce uncertainty and optimize the operation strategies of proposed sediment diversions.