Laguna Madre, Texas, is 3-7 km wide and more than 190 km long, making it one of the longest lagoons in the world. The lagoon encompasses diverse geologic and climatic regions and it is an efficient sediment trap that accumulates clastic sediments from upland, interior, and oceanic sources. The semi-arid climate and frequent tropical cyclones historically have been responsible for the greatest volume of sediment influx. On an average annual basis, eolian transport, tidal exchange, storm washover, mainland runoff, interior shore erosion, and authigenic mineral production introduce approximately one million m3 of sediments into the lagoon. Analyses of these sediment transport mechanisms and associated line sources and point sources of sediment provide a basis for: (1) estimating the long-term average annual sediment supply to a large lagoon; (2) calculating the average net sedimentation rate; (3) comparing introduced sediment volumes and associated aggradation rates with observed relative sea-level change; and (4) predicting future conditions of the lagoon. This comparison indicates that the historical average annual accumulation rate in Laguna Madre (<1 mm/yr) is substantially less than the historical rate of relative sea-level rise (~4 mm/yr). Lagoon submergence coupled with erosion of the western shore indicates that Laguna Madre is being submerged slowly and migrating westward rather than filling, as some have suggested.
Additional Publication Details
Rates of sediment supply and sea-level rise in a large coastal lagoon