Examination of foraminifers, diatoms, ostracodes, clay mineralogy, and sediment-size variation from 9 borehole sites along the salt-marsh margins of Richardson Bay reveals a record of gradual infilling of fine-grained estuarine sediments. Over the past 10,000 years this area was transformed from a V-shaped Pleistocene stream valley to a flat-floored arm of the San Francisco Bay estuary.
A radiocarbon date obtained from a basal peat overlying nonmarine alluvial sand near the town of Mill Valley indicates that stable salt-marsh vegetation was present in the northwestern arm of Richardson Bay 4600?165 years ago and agrees within error limits with a Holocene sea-level curve developed by Atwater, Hedel, and Helley in 1977 for southern San Francisco Bay. The average sedimentation rate over the last 4600 years is estimated to be 0.2 cm/yr for the inner part of the bay. Comparison of early maps with updated versions as well as studies of marsh plant zonations in disturbed and nondisturbed areas shows that almost half of the marsh in Richardson Bay has been leveed or filled since 1899.
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USGS Numbered Series
Holocene sedimentation in Richardson Bay, California