Outer Banks, NC

Changes in geomorphology and ecology after hurricane landfall

Research conducted at

Franklin & Marshall College

University of Pennsylvania

East Carolina University

Hurricane Isabel made landfall on September 18th, 2003, depositing several large, 0.5 to 1 m thick overwash fans across the back-barrier marsh of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. For the next eight years, we have surveyed and collected samples across a transect to understand the changes in lithology, foraminiferal, and plant ecology that have occurred since initial overwash deposition.

We are particularly interested in the conditions in which overwash sand is either preserved or removed from the marsh environment and how the ecology of the marsh responds. We are also interested in tracking the annual changes in foraminiferal assemblages as the environment shifts from being a barren overwash sand deposit to a vegetated marsh platform.

The implications of this research are important to studies in paleotempestology, coastal geomorphology, and ecology.