This study examines the influence of the Atchafalaya River, a major distributary of the Mississippi River, on stratigraphic evolution of the inner continental shelf in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Sedimentary, geochemical, and shallow acoustic data are used to identify the western limit of the distal Atchafalaya subaqueous delta, and to estimate the proportion of the Atchafalaya River's sediment load that accumulates on the inner shelf seaward of Louisiana's chenier-plain coast. The results demonstrate a link between sedimentary facies distribution on the inner shelf and patterns of shoreline accretion and retreat on the chenier plain. Mudflat progradation on the eastern chenier-plain coast corresponds to the location of deltaic mud accumulation on the inner shelf. On the central chenier-plain shelf, west of the subaqueous delta, relict sediment is exposed that was originally deposited between ???1200 and 600 years BP during activity of the Lafourche lobe of the Mississippi Delta complex. Mass-balance calculations indicate that the eastern chenier-plain inner shelf and coastal zone form a sink for 7??2% of the sediment load carried by the Atchafalaya River. ?? 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Additional Publication Details
Influence of the Atchafalaya River on recent evolution of the chenier-plain inner continental shelf, northern Gulf of Mexico