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Modeling sediment texture of river-deltaic wetlands in the Lower Barataria Bay and Lower Breton Sound, Louisiana, USA

Abstract

Wetlands in the Mississippi River Delta Plain (MRDP) have been suffering from a high rate of land loss. Sediment cores have been drilled into the wetlands to understand their growth and degradation and to provide subsurface information for the coastal protection and restoration projects. However, few three-dimensional (3D) stratigraphy models have been developed for the wetlands on a regional scale, due to difficulties in correlating large amount of spatial scattered subsurface data and integrated visualization of stratigraphic features and topobathymetric features. In this study, a 3D model was constructed in the Lower Barataria Bay (LBB) and the Lower Breton Sound (LBS), covering an area of 190 km2 and extending from 0.5 to − 4 m in elevation. Sediment composition (sand%, silt%, and clay%) was spatially interpolated, using a compositional kriging method, extended from ordinary kriging by a log-ratio transformation. Instead of visualizing three composition components independently, sediment composition was translated into sediment texture to be visualized as sediment types. Modeling results intuitively show spatial distribution of stratigraphic features and their spatial relationships with topobathymetric features such as marsh surface, river channel, and dredging channels. Results show a silty depositional package, which consists of crevasse splays and periodic overbank flooding deposits, made up the largest portion of the wetlands. A clayey blanket is observed to cover most part of the LBB and landward side of the LBS. A large area of clayey blanket in the seaward part of the LBS has apparently been eroded away, which is likely caused by coastal reworking processes.

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Acknowledgments

We acknowledge Cody Johnson for help with data compilation, and Jeff Bomer for sharing knowledge in the adjacent study area and providing suggestions.

Funding

This study was supported in part by the U.S. Geological Survey (Grant No. G16AP00056) through the Louisiana Water Resources Research Institute and by the Department of the Treasury under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act) (Award No. RCEGR260003-01-00) through The Water Institute of the Gulf. This project was also funded by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority through The Water Institute of the Gulf under project award numbers CPRA-2013-T11-SB02-DR, CPRA-2013-TO15-SB02-MA and CPRA-2013-TO16-SB02-MA. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Interior and the Department of the Treasury.

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Correspondence to Frank T.-C. Tsai.

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Li, A., Tsai, F.TC., Xu, K. et al. Modeling sediment texture of river-deltaic wetlands in the Lower Barataria Bay and Lower Breton Sound, Louisiana, USA. Geo-Mar Lett 39, 161–173 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00367-019-00566-2

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