Chapter

High Resolution Morphodynamics and Sedimentary Evolution of Estuaries

Volume 8 of the series Coastal Systems and Continental Margins pp 269-298

Effects of Cold Fronts on Bayhead Delta Development: Atchafalaya Bay, Louisiana, USA

  • Harry H. RobertsAffiliated withCoastal Studies Institute, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University
  • , Nan D. WalkerAffiliated withCoastal Studies Institute, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University
  • , Alexandru SheremetAffiliated withCoastal Studies Institute, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University
  • , Gregory W. StoneAffiliated withCoastal Studies Institute, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University

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Abstract

Delta-building in the Holocene Mississippi River system is characterized by the successive construction and abandonment of delta lobes (Fisk, 1944; Kolb and Van Lopik, 1958; Frazier, 1967). Each major delta-building episode is accompanied by a rather orderly and predictable set of events starting with stream capture followed by filling of an interdistributary basin with lacustrine deltas and swamp deposits, building of a bayhead delta at the coast, and finally construction of a major shelf delta. The process of “delta switching” involves the initiation of a new major delta while the previously active delta is systematically abandoned. These changes associated with shifting fluvial input are commonly referred to as the “delta cycle” (Roberts, 1997). Each major delta lobe in the Mississippi River system is active for about 1000–1500 years.