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Flooding isn't new to the Santa Barbara coastline. However, the inundation doesn't always come from the mountains as it did last month in Montecito.
Back in 1861-2, a series of large storms washed beach sand more than a quarter mile inland into what today is the Carpinteria Salt Marsh. Although historical accounts document the inland flooding, little has been known about how those storms impacted a now heavily developed California coast.
Paper - Journal - Marine - Geology - UC
In a new paper in the journal Marine Geology, UC Santa Barbara geologists provide the first physical evidence of coastal erosion and inundation produced by these storms. In the upper meter of marsh sediments, they found a unique deposit—in fact the only such deposit to have happened over the past 300 or so years.
"The deposit is comparable in scale to those caused by moderate hurricanes or even small tsunamis," explained co-author Alex Simms, an associate professor in UCSB's Department of Earth Science. "The deposit suggests that the 1861-62 storm season was erosive enough to remove coastal barriers, allowing extensive coastal flooding in areas currently developed today."
Team - Work - Carpinteria - Salt - Marsh
The team conducted its work at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, part of UCSB's Natural Reserve System.
Lead author Laura Reynolds, a graduate student in Simms' lab, and co-authors mapped the sand deposit within the Carpinteria marsh using 40 sediment cores, tubes of sediment up to 4 meters long. They confirmed the deposit's age using the presence of European crop pollen as well as tiny grains known as spheroidal carbonaceous particles, which are created by the burning...
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