The benthic foraminiferal record of marshes located along western Delaware Bay (St. Jones Estuary, USA) reflects the response of estuaries to sea-level and paleoclimate change during the Holocene. System tracts are recognized and within them parasequences based on sedimentological and foraminiferal assemblages identification. The parasequences defined by foraminiferal assemblages appear correlative with rapid Holocene climate changes that are of worldwide significance: 6000-5000, 4200-3800, 3500-2500, 1200-1000, and 600??cal years BP. Following postglacial sea-level rise, modern subestuaries and marshes in the region began to develop between 6000 and 4000??years BP, depending on their proximity to the mouth of Delaware Bay and coastal geomorphology. Initial sediments were fluvial in origin, with freshwater marshes established around 4000??years BP. The subsequent sea-level transgression occurred sufficiently slowly that freshwater marshes alternated with salt marshes at the same sites to around 3000??years BP. Locally another two transgressions are identified at 1800 and 1000??years BP respectively. Marine influence increased in the estuaries until 600??years BP (Little Ice Age), when regression occurred. Sea-level began to rise again during the mid-19th Century at the end of the Little Ice Age, when marshes became established. The presence of a sand lens in the upper and middle estuary and the reduction in the number of tests in the top samples in cores from the same area also suggest an anthropogenic influence. The estuary infill resulted in a sharp transgressive sequence, represented by salt marsh foraminiferal assemblages in the upper part of the cores. The increase in marsh foraminifera in both areas suggests an increase in marine influence that might be due to the transgression beginning at the end of the Little Ice Age about 150-180??years ago coupled with anthropogenic straightening of the channel in 1913. ?? 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Holocene environmental and parasequence development of the St. Jones Estuary, Delaware (USA): Foraminiferal proxies of natural climatic and anthropogenic change