Significance of Active Growth Faulting On Marsh Accretion Processes in the Lower Pearl River, Louisiana

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Marine Science


Ocean Science and Engineering


Neotectonic processes influence marsh accretion in the lower Pearl River valley. Active growth faults are suggested by groupings of ponded river channel sections, transverse and linear river channel sections, and down- and across-valley contrasts in channel sinuosity. Seismic profiles identified several likely, fault-induced structural anomalies, two of which parallel the axes of surface distributary networks. Lithostratigraphy and biostratigraphy of six cores from across a suspected fault in the West Middle River, combined with 14C-based age control, yielded evidence of vertical offsets, indicating that this river section is on the plane of a growth fault. These data were used to estimate fault slip rates over two time intervals, 1.2 mm/y over the last 1300 yr. and 0.2 mm yr-1 over the last 3700 yr, and delineated a sinusoidal pattern of deformation moving distally from the fault, which we interpret as resulting from fault-propagation folding. Higher rates of sediment accumulation (of the order of cm yr-1 from 210Pbxs and 137Cs activity data) on the down-thrown side are consistent with sedimentary response to increased accommodation space, and mass-based sediment accumulation rates (g cm-2 yr-1) exhibit a pattern inverse of that shown by fault-driven sinusoidal deformation. We contend that near-surface growth faults are critically important to driving accretion rates and marsh response to sea-level rise. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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