Marsh Sedimentation Colorado and Trinity River Deltas Texas Gulf Coast

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1988

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The most extensive losses in coastal wetlands in the United States over the last two decades have occurred along the Gulf Coast. Wetlands are disappearing at the alarming rate of more than 100 km2 per year (39 sq mi/yr) on the Mississippi River Delta, indicating a reversal in the trend of net progradation of the delta that characterized much of the past 5,000 years (Gagliano and others, 1981). The loss rates have accelerated geometrically during the 20th century, apparently as a result of natural and artificial processes. The latter include artificial levees and control structures that have harnessed the Mississippi River and virtually eliminated the deltaic sedimentation processes of overbank flooding, crevassing, and upstream diversion. Extensive canalization and accelerated subsidence related to mineral extraction compound the problem (Gagliano and others, 1981). Investigations of marsh losses in Louisiana indicate that marsh aggradation (vertical accretion) rates are not keeping pace with relative (apparent) sea-level rise (Delaune and others, 1983; Hatton and others, 1983; Baumann and others, 1984; Boesch and others, 1984).

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