Change in morphology and modern sediment thickness on the inner continental shelf offshore of Fire Island, New York between 2011 and 2014: Analysis of hurricane impact

Marine Geology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Seafloor mapping investigations conducted on the lower shoreface and inner continental shelf offshore of Fire Island, New York in 2011 and 2014, the period encompassing the impacts of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, provide an unprecedented perspective regarding regional inner continental shelf sediment dynamics during large storm events. Analyses of these studies demonstrate that storm-induced erosion and sediment transport occurred throughout the study area in water depths up to 30 m. Acoustic backscatter patterns were observed to move from ~1 m to 450 m with a mean of 20 m and movement tended to decrease with increasing water depth. These patterns indicate that both of the primary inner continental shelf sedimentary features in the study area, linear sorted bedforms offshore of eastern Fire Island and shoreface-attached sand ridges offshore of central and western Fire island, migrated alongshore to the southwest. The migration of the sorted bedforms represents the modification of an active ravinement surface and is thought to have liberated a significant volume of sediment. Comparison of isopach maps of sediment thickness show that the volume of modern sediment composing the lower shoreface and shoreface-attached sand ridges decreased by ~2.8 × 106 m3 across the ~73 km2 of common seafloor mapped in both surveys. However, a similar analysis for the relatively calmer 15-yr period prior to 2011 revealed significant accretion. This allows speculation that the shoreface-attached sand ridges are maintained over decadal timescales via sediment supplied through erosion of Pleistocene outwash and lower Holocene transgressive channel-fill deposits exposed on the inner continental shelf, but that the sand ridges also periodically erode and move to the southwest during large storm events. Analyses show that significant storminduced erosion and sediment transport occurs far seaward of the 5 to 9 m depth of closure assumed for Fire Island, where it is thought that an onshore-directed sediment flux from the inner continental shelf to the littoral system is required to balance the coastal sediment budget. It is also thought that the morphology of the shoreface-attached sand ridges controls the persistent shape of the adjacent shoreline through modification of incident waves. Thus, we suggest that the sediment dynamics of the inner continental shelf and both storminduced and anthropogenic modification of the field of shoreface-attached sand ridges be considered in future coastal resiliency planning.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Change in morphology and modern sediment thickness on the inner continental shelf offshore of Fire Island, New York between 2011 and 2014: Analysis of hurricane impact
Series title Marine Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2017.07.010
Volume 391
Issue 1
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 17 p.
First page 48
Last page 64
Country United States
State New York
Other Geospatial Fire Island