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Quaternary geomorphology and modern coastal development in response to an inherent geologic framework: An example from Charleston, South Carolina

Journal of Coastal Research

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Abstract

Coastal landscapes evolve over wide-ranging spatial and temporal scales in response to physical and biological pro-cesses that interact with a wide range of variables. To develop better predictive models for these dynamic areas, we must understand the influence of these variables on coastal morphologies and ultimately how they influence coastal processes. This study defines the influence of geologic framework variability on a classic mixed-energy coastline, and establishes four categorical scales of spatial and temporal influence on the coastal system. The near-surface, geologic framework was delineated using high-resolution seismic profiles, shallow vibracores, detailed geomorphic maps, historical shorelines, aerial photographs, and existing studies, and compared to the long- and short-term development of two coastal compartments near Charleston, South Carolina. Although it is clear that the imprint of a mixed-energy tidal and wave signal (basin-scale) dictates formation of drumstick barriers and that immediate responses to wave climate are dramatic, island size, position, and longer-term dynamics are influenced by a series of inherent, complex near-surface stratigraphic geometries. Major near-surface Tertiary geometries influence inlet placement and drainage development (island-scale) through multiple interglacial cycles and overall channel morphology (local-scale). During the modern marine transgression, the halo of ebb-tidal deltas greatly influence inlet region dynamics, while truncated beach ridges and exposed, differentially erodable Cenozoic deposits in the active system influence historical shoreline dynamics and active shoreface morphologies (blockscale). This study concludes that the mixed-energy imprint of wave and tide theories dominates general coastal morphology, but that underlying stratigraphic influences on the coast provide site-specific, long-standing imprints on coastal evolution.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Quaternary geomorphology and modern coastal development in response to an inherent geologic framework: An example from Charleston, South Carolina
Series title:
Journal of Coastal Research
Volume
21
Issue:
1
Year Published:
2005
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Journal of Coastal Research
First page:
49
Last page:
64
Number of Pages:
16