HARSH (O. F. mersc, for merisc, a place full of "meres" or pools; cf. Ger. Meer, sea, Lat. mare), an area of low-lying watery land. The significance of a marsh area is not so much in the manner of its formation as in the peculiar chemical and physical results that accompany it,- and its relation to the ecology of plant and animal life. Chemically it is productive of such gases as arise from decomposing vegetation and are transitory in their effects, and in the production of hydrated iron oxide, which may be seen floating as an iridescent scum at the edge of rusty, marshy pools. This sinks into the soil and forms a powerful iron cement to many sandstones, binding them into a hard local mass, while the surrounding sandstones are loose and friable. A curious morphological inversion follows in a later geological period, the marsh area forming the hard cap of a hill (see MESA) while the surrounding sandstones are weathered away. Salt marshes are a feature of many low-lying sea-coasts and areas of inland drainage.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)