Textural-distribution patterns of sea-floor sediments on the South Texas continental shelf between Matagorda Bay and the U.S.-Mexico international boundary were evaluated as part of a regional environmental-studies program. Sediment textural gradients support a conceptual model for the regional sediment-dispersal system, which is characterized by both net offshore transport and net south-trending coastwise transport components on a wind-dominated shelf. Coastwise transport results in the net southward migration of both palimpsest sandy mud composing the ancestral Brazos-Colorado delta flank in the northern sector, and modern mud composing the central sector; these migrating sediments are encroaching southward onto immobile relict muddy sands composing the ancestral Rio Grande delta in the southern sector. In the proposed model, the suspension transport of modern silt-enriched mud derived mainly from coastal sources is the dominant dispersal mechanism. Net offshore transport is attributed both to diffusion, and to the advective ebb-tide discharge of turbid lagoonal-estuarine waters from coastal inlets. Net southward transport is attributed mainly to advection by seasonally residual coastwise drift currents reflecting a winter-dominated hydraulic regime. Frequent winter storms characterized by relatively high-speed northerly winds that accompany the passage of cold fronts appear to be dominant regional dispersal agents. ?? 1978.
Additional Publication Details
A sediment-dispersal model for the South Texas continental shelf, northwest Gulf of Mexico