Surface Elevation Table

Sediment Marker Horizon
SET arm and measuring rods in standing water, Nisqually NWR.

Description: Portable mechanical leveling device for measuring relative sediment elevation changes. Is often paired with marker horizon to explain processes behind elevation increases or decreases (i.e. sedimentation, shallow subsidence, etc.)

Benefits: accurate and precise as measurements are always taken in the exact location, mm resolution

Limitations: expensive to install, sedimentation rates limited to where poles are installed, poles can sometimes cause erosion in unvegetated areas.

Sediment Marker Horizon
K. Turner (USGS WERC) and G. Guntenspergen (USGS PWRC) reading SET, Nisqually Reference Marsh.

Installation and Measurement Methods: Currently, the most comprehensive source for SET background, installation and measurements can be found at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center website (

Data Entry and Analysis: For examples on how to enter and analyze SET data, see ( and

Sediment Plate Chart
Mean change in surface elevation (+/- standard error) from three Nisqually Delta study sites (Refuge: 8 SETs, Reference: 3 SETs, Phase II: 3 SETs).


comments powered by Disqus