Large volumes of new accommodation have formed within the Mississippi Delta plain since the mid-1950s in association with rapid conversion of coastal wetlands to open water. The three-dimensional aspects and processes responsible for accommodation formation were quantified by comparing surface elevations, water depths, and vertical displacements of stratigraphic contacts that were correlated between short sediment cores. Integration of data from remotely sensed images, sediment cores, and water-depth surveys at 10 geologically diverse areas in the delta plain provided a basis for estimating the total volume of accommodation formed by interior-wetland subsidence and subsequent erosion. Results indicate that at most of the study areas subsidence was a greater contributor than erosion to the formation of accommodation associated with wetland loss. Tens of millions of cubic meters of accommodation formed rapidly at each of the large open-water bodies that were formerly continuous interior delta-plain marsh. Together the individual study areas account for more than 440 × 106 × m3 of new accommodation that formed as holes in the Mississippi River delta-plain fabric between 1956 and 2004. This large volume provides an estimate of the new sediment that would be needed just at the study areas to restore the delta-plain wetlands to their pre-1956 areal extent and elevations.
Additional publication details
Quantifying large-scale historical formation of accommodation in the Mississippi Delta