Encyclopedia of Coastal Science

2005 Edition
| Editors: Maurice L. Schwartz

Deltas

  • Shea Penland
  • Mark A. Kulp
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-3880-1_114

Deltas are coastal landforms comprised of subaerial and subaqueous packages of fluvial-transported sediments that have formed an alluvial landscape by deposition at the mouth of a river. Deltas form at the coastal interface where riverine sediment supplied to the coastline is not removed by tides or waves. The term delta derives from Herodotus who, in the 5th century BC, noted a geometric similarity between the tract of land at the mouth of the Nile River and the Greek letter “Δ” with its apex directed landward (Moore and Asquith, 1971). Although this distinctive morphology is absent in many river-mouth landscapes, the term has nonetheless been accepted to describe the geographical region near a river mouth and the sedimentary package that develops at a fluvial entrance into a depositional receiving basin.

Globally, deltas can be found on all continents and in all climates ( Figure D4). In a general sense, the locations of deltas are similar; at the terminus of a catchment basin that...
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Bibliography

  1. 1.
    Alonso, B., Field, M.E., Gardner, J.V., and Maldonado, A., 1990. Sedimentary evolution of the Pliocene and Pleistocene Ebro margin, northeastern Spain. Marine Geology, 95: 313–331.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bates, C.C., 1953. Rational theory of delta formation. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, 37: 2119–2161.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Boyd, R., Suter, J.R., and Penland, S., 1989. Sequence stratigraphy of the Mississippi delta. Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions, 39: 331–340.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Coleman, J.M., 1981. Deltas: Processes of Deposition and Models for Exploration. Minneapolis: Burgess.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Coleman, J.M., and Prior, D.B., 1980. Deltaic sand bodies. In American Association of Petroleum Geologists Continuing Education Course 15, Tulsa, OK, p. 171Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Coleman, J.M., and Wright, L.D., 1975. Modern river deltas: variability of processes and sand bodies. In Broussard, M.L. (ed.), Deltas: Models for Exploration. Houston, TX: Houston Geological Society, pp. 99–146.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Davis, R.A., Jr., 1983. Depositional Systems: A Genetic Approach to Sedimentary Geology. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Davis, R.A., Jr., 1994. The Evolving Coast. New York: Scientific American Library.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Donaldson, A.C., Martin, R.H., and Kanes, W.H., 1970. Holocene Guadalupe delta of Texas gulf coast. In Morgan, J.P. (ed.), Deltaic Sedimentation: Modern and Ancient. Tulsa, OK: Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Special Publication 15, pp. 107–137.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Elliot, T., 1986. Deltas. In Reading, H.G. (ed.), Sedimentary Environments. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, pp. 113–154.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fairbanks, R.G., 1989. A 17,000-year glacio-eustatic sea level record: influence of glacial melting rates on the Younger Dryas event and deep-ocean circulation. Nature, 342: 637–642.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Fisher, W.L., Brown, L.F., Jr., Scott, A.J., and McGowen, J.H., 1969. Deltas systems in the exploration for oil and gas: a research colloquium. Austin: University of Texas, Bureau of Economic Geology.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Frazier, D.E., 1967. Recent deltaic deposits of the Mississippi River: their development and chronology. Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions, 27: 287–315.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Galloway, William E., 1975. Process framework for describing the morphologic and stratigraphic evolution of deltaic depositional systems. In Broussard, M.L. (ed.), Deltas: Models for Exploration. Houston, TX: Houston Geological Society, pp. 87–96.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gilbert, G.K., 1884. The topographical features of lake shores. United States Geological Survey Annual Report, 5: 104–108.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Inman, D.L., and Nordstrom, C.E., 1971. On the tectonic and morphologic classification of coasts. Journal of Geology, 97: 1–21.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kindinger, J.L., 1988. Seismic stratigraphy of the Mississippi-Alabama shelf and upper continental slope. Marine Geology, 83: 79–94.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kindinger, J.L., Balson, P.S., and Flocks, J.G., 1994. Stratigraphy of the Mississippi-Alabama shelf and the mobile river incised-valley system. In Dalrymple, R.W., Boyd, R., and Zaitlin, B.A. (eds.), Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Special Publication 51, pp. 83–95.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kostaschuk, R.A., 1985. River mouth processes in a fjord delta, British Columbia Canada. Marine Geology, 69: 1–23.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Maldonado, A., 1975. Sedimentation, stratigraphy and development of the Ebro Delta, Spain. In Broussard, M. L. (ed.), Deltas: Models for Exploration. Houston: Houston Geological Society, pp. 311–338.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    McEwen, M.C., 1969. Sedimentary facies of the modern Trinity delta. In Lanlford, R.R., and Rogers, J.J.W. (eds.), Holocene Geology of the Galveston Bay Area. Houston Geological Society, pp. 53–77.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Moore, G.T., and Asquith, D.O., 1971. Delta: term and concept. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 82: 2563–2568.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Morton, R.A., and Price, W.A., 1987. Late Quaternary sea-level fluctuations and sedimentary phases of the Texas coastal plain and shelf. In Nummedal, D., Pilkey, O.H., and Howard, J.D. (eds.), Sea-Level Fluctuation and Coastal Evolution. Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Special Publication 41, pp. 181–198.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Müller, G., 1966. The new Rhine delta in Lake Constance. In Broussard, M.L. (ed.), Deltas: Models for Exploration. Houston, TX: Houston Geological Society, pp. 107–124.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Naidu, A.S., and Mowatt, T.C., 1975. Depositional environments and sediment characteristics of the Colville and adjacent deltas, Northern Artic Alaska. In Broussard, M.L. (ed.), Deltas: Models for Exploration. Houston, TX: Houston Geological Society, pp. 283–307.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Nichol, S.L., Boyd, R., and Penland, S., 1996. Sequence stratigraphy of a coastal-plain incised valley estuary: Lake Calcasieu, LA. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 66(4): 847–857.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Orton, G.J., and Reading, H.G., 1993. Variability of deltaic processes in terms of sediment supply, with particular emphasis on grain size. Sedimentology, 40: 475–512.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Penland, S., and Suter, J.R. 1989. The geomorphology of the Mississippi River chenier plain. Marine Geology, 90: 231–258.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Reineck, H.E., and Singh, I.B., 1973. Depositional Sedimentary Environments with Reference to Terrigenous Clastics. New York: Springer Verlag.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Stanley, D.J., and Warne, A.G., 1994. Worldwide initiation of Holocene marine deltas by deceleration of sea-level rise. Science, 265: 228–231.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Stanley, D.J., and Warne, A.G., 1997. Holocene sea-level change and early human utilization of deltas. Geological Society of American Today, 7(12): 1–7.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Suter, J.R., 1994. Deltaic coasts. In Carter, R.W.G., and Woodroffe, C.D. (eds.), Coastal Evolution: Late Quaternary Shoreline Morphodynamics, pp. 87–114.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Suter, J.R., Berryhill, H.L., Jr., and Penland, S., 1987. Late Quaternary sea-level fluctuations and depositional sequences, southwest Louisiana continental shelf. In Nummedal, D., Pilkey, O. H., and Howard, J. D. (eds.), Sea-Level Fluctuation and Coastal Evolution. Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Special Publication 41, pp. 199–219.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Tye, R.S., and Coleman, J.M., 1989. Depositional processes and stratigraphy of fluvially dominated lacustrine deltas: Mississippi Delta plain. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 59(6): 973–996.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    van Heerden, I., and Roberts, H.H., 1988. Facies development Atchafalaya delta, Louisiana: a modern bayhead delta. American Association of Petroleum Geologists, 72(4): 439–453.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Wright, L.D., 1977. Sediment transport and deposition at river mouths: a synthesis. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 88: 857–868.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Wright, L.D., and Coleman, J.M., 1973. Variations in morphology of major river deltas as functions of ocean wave and river discharge regimes. American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Bulletin, 57: 370–398.Google Scholar

Cross-references

  1. 1.
    Changing Sea LevelsGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Coastal Sedimentary FaciesGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Deltaic EcologyGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ingression, Regression, and TransgressionGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Late Quaternary Marine TransgressionGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Sea-Level Changes During the Last MilleniumGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Sea-Level Rise, EffectGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sedimentary BasinsGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Sequence StratigraphyGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Submerging CoastsGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shea Penland
  • Mark A. Kulp

There are no affiliations available