SoCal Coastal Wetlands Research Project

Welcome to the homepage for the SoCal Coastal Wetlands Research Project from the Coastal and Marine Geology Lab at California State University, Fullerton.  Here you will find updates about our research in the coastal wetlands of southern California, and interactive educational activities to learn about coastal wetland geology, and the physical processes that shape coastal wetlands in southern California.  

 
Los Penasquitos Lagoon, San Diego County

Los Penasquitos Lagoon, San Diego County

Coastal Wetlands in Southern California

Coastal wetlands are the dominant estuarine-type in the region.  These environments are characterized by extensive salt marshes, bisected by sinuous tidal creeks and mudflats.  Along the southern California coast, coastal wetland systems come in a variety of sizes, and dot the coast as series of isolated ecosystems nestled between rocky headlands and urban expanses.  These coastal wetlands are relatively young geologically compared to wetlands along the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and formed under the unique combination of dynamic climatic and dynamic tectonic forces.  Today, the coastal wetlands in southern California are increasingly impacted by human activities as populations in the region continue to grow and expand.   

Vibracoring in Los Penasquitos Lagoon, San Diego County.

Vibracoring in Los Penasquitos Lagoon, San Diego County.

Active Projects

Currently we are working in three unique systems in the region: the Seal Beach Wetlands, Upper Newport Bay, and Los Penasquitos Lagoon.  For each of these projects were are looking to answer unique research questions including: wetland response to earthquakes, is sedimentation keeping pace with sea level rise, and natural processes that led to pre-European oyster habitat loss. 

Mudflats in Upper Newport Bay, Orange County.

Mudflats in Upper Newport Bay, Orange County.

Educational Activities

Coastal wetlands are some of the most productive ecosystems on Earth, and currently viewed as a potential important reservoir for the storage of blue carbon to combat climate change.  Located at the interface between the ocean and the land, these environments are significantly impacted by sea level rise.  As a result of climate change, the future of coastal wetlands globally remains unknown.