Foraminiferal and sedimentologic data were collected by vibracoring a small, relict, short-lived, migrating inlet (New Inlet) and its flood-tide delta on the Outer Banks, North Carolina. These data, placed in the context of geospatial data derived from ground penetrating radar, were developed into a stratigraphic model for this sedimentary environment. The model was applied to vibracores collected from two additional barrier island segments within which historic inlets had not been recorded to investigate whether inlets had existed in these segments in the past. Five foraminiferal biofacies were recognized within the three barrier island segments. Biofacies 1 through 5 are all associated with interior and back-barrier depositional environments but Biofacies 4 and 5 contained foram-inifera indicating a sediment source on the shoreface or shallow inner shelf. Biofacies 4 and 5 thus represent overwash or flood-tide delta depositional settings. Utilizing the model as an interpretive tool, we recognized a previously undocumented inlet and flood-tide delta that existed prior to 962-662 cal. yrs BP, a few kilometers north of Rodanthe, NC. However, at a barrier island segment between Avon and Buxton, NC., the lack of information on stratal geometry and foraminiferal assemblages meant that it could not be determined whether this sedimentary succession was influenced more by overwash or inlet dynamics. Given the similarity of foraminiferal assemblages in overwash and flood-tide delta sediments, it is clear that additional lines of evidence (lithologic and geospatial) are required to recognize small-scale flood-tide delta deposits in the subsurface.
Additional publication details
Recognizing former flood-tide deltas in the Holocene stratigraphic record from the Outer Banks, North Carolina, USA