USC Aiken Researcher Featured in Preeminent Journal

Staff Report From Aiken CEO

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

The latest edition of the Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface features a University of South Carolina Aiken professor and her co-researchers from the Columbia campus and the Savannah River National Laboratory.

Dr. Jessica Chassereau Sullivan and her colleagues -- Raymond Torres, from the department of earth and ocean science at UofSC and Alfred Garrett, from the Savannah River Site - explored the role of intertidal creek networks in overmarsh circulation and tracer residence times, as they are ubiquitous features of salt marsh landscapes. The result was their article: "Intertidal Creeks and Overmarsh Circulation in a Small Salt Marsh Basin."

"We are very proud of Dr. Sullivan and her co-researchers," said Dr. Chad Leverette, interim dean of the College of Sciences and Engineering at USC Aiken.

"This team committed a lot of resources, time and talent to conducting the study, which greatly enhances the body of work in this area."

As part of her tenure track, Sullivan dedicated 2.5 years to the project.

"In this study, we systematically remove intertidal creeks from a high-resolution salt marsh digital elevation model and conduct new flow simulations with each iteration," their abstract states.

At the end of their study, results revealed that "for the Groves Creek marsh, these lower-order intertidal creeks common to all salt marsh landscapes actually have a minor role in overmarsh circulation, while higher-order creeks that take up less than 2% of the total marsh area increase the potential for short circuiting of flow, thereby greatly influencing overall flood and ebb dominance, and net tracer dispersal and associated retention time."

The team's research provides new insights on salt marsh restoration, marsh landscape evolution, and the requisite digital elevation model bathymetry for robust simulations of overmarsh circulation.

Sullivan is an assistant professor of geology at USC Aiken.

"My research focuses on investigating the vegetation-topographic controls on water circulation and material cycling in intertidal landscapes and freshwater wetlands through field observation, remote sensing, numerical modeling and GIS," she said.

"I am particularly interested in understanding how physical and biological processes interact to shape salt marshes and coastal rivers. I hope to advance my research through predictive modeling of processes across a range of temporal and spatial scales to address for example, the coastal zone response to sea level rise."

Sullivan is extremely active with USC Aiken's undergraduate research efforts and mentors several students as they explore their research interests as well.

"I have a strong desire to engage undergraduates in field-based experiments, spatial data analysis in ArcGIS and scientific writing.

"Such opportunities are essential to the students in our local community."