Sedimentary environments and processes in a shallow, Gulf Coast Estuary-Lavaca Bay, Texas.



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Texas A&M University


Sedimentation rates in sediment cores from Lavaca Bay have been high within the last 1-2 decays within the central portion of the bay, with small fluctuations from river input. Lavaca Bay is a broad, flat, and shallow (<3 m) microtidal estuary within the upper Matagorda Bay system. Marine derived sediment enters the system from Matagorda Bay, while two major rivers (Lavaca & Navidad) supply the majority of terrestrially derived sediment. With continuous sediment supply the bay showed no bathymetric change until the introduction of the shipping channel. Processes that potentially lead to sediment transport and resuspension within the bay include wind driven wave resuspension, storm surges, wind driven blowouts, and river flooding. These processes were assessed using X-radiographs, grain size profiles, and 210Pb and 137Cs geochronology of sediment diver cores. In six cores the upper 10 cm of the seabed has been physically mixed, where as the rest showed a continuous sediment accumulation rate between 0.84-1.22 cm/yr. Sidescan sonar and subbottom chirp sonar data coupled with sedimentological core and grab samples were used to map the location and delineate the sedimentary facies within the estuarine system in depths >1 m. Five sedimentary facies were identified in Lavaca Bay and adjacent bays, they are: 1) estuarine mud; 2) fluvial sand; 3) beach sand; 4) bay mouth sand; and 5) oyster biofacies. Of the five facies, Lavaca Bay consists primarily of estuarine mud (68%).
Pre-Hurricane and post-Hurricane Claudette cores were obtained to observe the impact to the sedimentary processes. The north and south Lavaca Bay were eroded by 10 cm and 2-3 cm, respectively. Cox Bay and Keller Bay saw a net deposition of 2-3 cm.