Tracking Barrier Island Response to Early Holocene Sea-level Rise: High Resolution Study of Estuarine Sediments in the Trinity River Paleovalley

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Jacob Burstein, JOHN A GOFF , Sean Gulick, Christopher Michael Lowery, Patricia Standring, John Swartz


Understanding how barrier islands respond to factors such as variations in sediment supply, relative sea-level rise, and accommodation is valuable for preparing coastal communities for future impacts of climate change. Increasingly, the underlying antecedent topography has been observed to have a significant control on the evolution of the barrier island system by providing increased elevation, decreased accommodation, and sediment supply for the barrier to rework and anchor upon. However, less attention has been focused on how back barrier sediments respond to this decreased accommodation, and how this may affect barrier island evolution. Additionally, the control in which the geometry of the underlying valley itself has on the initiation of barrier islands is poorly understood. Here we examine the stratigraphic framework of the Trinity River incised valley, offshore Galveston, Texas in order to investigate the role of antecedent topography in the evolution of an ancient barrier island system. We present high-resolution imaging of the Trinity incised valley fill using over 1200 km2 of 3D seismic, <700 km of 2D envelope and full waveform chirp data, along with 2 piston cores, 4 gravity cores, 1 platform boring, with associated grain size, foraminiferal, and radiocarbon data. We find that the geometry and elevation of the underlying antecedent topography plays a central role in the evolution of the barrier island system, promoting both initiation and stabilization. This study provides a methodology to investigate the evolution of a relict barrier island system where little to none of the barrier is preserved. With this methodology, we revise the established Holocene paleoshoreline model for the Trinity incised valley.



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Sea-level rise, Gulf of Mexico, Incised valleys, Seismic stratigraphy


Published: 2021-10-01 09:29

Last Updated: 2021-10-01 13:29


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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