Shallow geologic framework, geomorphic evolution, and sand resources of a paleo-barrier shoreline, Terrebonne Bay, Louisiana, USA
The Louisiana coast is an invaluable asset to the nation's human, economic, and ecological welfare. However, due to the combined effects of coastal erosion, subsidence, and sea level rise, Louisiana is losing on average 25 km2 of its valuable coastal wetlands per year. Terrebonne Bay and the associated Lafourche deltaic lobe headland is a critical section of this coast for wetlands and infrastructure protection and restoration in the State’s Master Plan. Historical imagery and bathymetry clearly show the rapid transgression and erosional degradation of both sets of headland-flanking barrier island shorelines due to wave attack and relative sea level rise in the past 150 y. The focus of the present study is a barrier island system: an ocean-fronting modern- barrier shoreline (Timbalier) and a paleo-deltaic headland barrier arc (Terrebonne) inland of the active barrier. The evolution of the modern barrier arc is closely tied to the shallow geologic framework over which it is transgressing, and specifically the sand re-activation capacity of the antecedent geology once erosional forces are introduced. To understand the evolution of these barrier systems and how to address their protection and re-nourishment, it is important to quantify (1) the depositional facies geometry and (2) the volume of sand in these back-barrier sandy lithosomes. Here we present new observations from CHIRP sub-bottom seismic, multibeam bathymetry, and surface grab and vibracore sampling in an effort to quantify the sediment availability within the underlying geologic framework and reconstruct the geomorphic evolution of these barrier shorelines. Observations of sandy units agree with results from Kulp et al. (2005), who showed the presence and extent of sandy lithofacies within 3 m of the surface proximal to the Raccoon Pass tidal-inlet. We provide evidence to suggest that this sand is an important potential resource for the longevity of proximal sandy barrier islands as transgression continues.