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Near-surface stratigraphy and morphology, Mississippi Inner Shelf, northern Gulf of Mexico

May 12, 2015

Over the past decade, the Mississippi Barrier Islands have been the focus of a comprehensive geologic investigation by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the National Park Service (NPS). The islands (Dauphin, Petite Bois, Horn, East Ship, West Ship, and Cat) are part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore (GUIS), and provide a diverse ecological habitat, protect the mainland from storm waves, and help maintain estuarine conditions within Mississippi Sound. Over the past century, the islands have been in a state of decline with respect to elevation and land-area loss. In 2005, the islands were severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina, which inundated them with a storm surge of 8 meters, causing severe shoreface erosion and widening breaches in Dauphin, West Ship, and Cat Islands. To evaluate the impact and fate of the islands, understanding their evolution and resiliency became a priority for the USGS under the Northern Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Change and Hazard Susceptibility Project. The project formed the basis for collaboration with the USACE Mississippi Coastal Improvement Project, which is intended to restore portions of coastal Mississippi and GUIS affected by storm impact. Since then, many studies have contributed to our understanding of the islands’ morphology and nearshore stratigraphy. This report expands upon the nearshore component to provide a stratigraphic and morphologic assessment offshore of Petit Bois Island.

In June 2013, as part of the MsCIP project, the USGS conducted a geophysical survey consisting of about 650 line-kilometers (km), encompassing an area of approximately 212 square kilometers (km2). The survey area extended from 1 to 13 km offshore of Petite Bois Island. The geophysical investigation included interferometric swath bathymetry, sidescan sonar, and chirp subbottom profiling. The intent of the survey was to provide geologic information that would assist the USACE in developing a sediment sampling strategy for identifying deposits suitable for shoreline restoration operations. The data from the geophysical survey would also further our understanding of the geologic framework along the inner shelf. Numerous seafloor and subbottom features were identified. At the surface, shoals and shelf sand sheets of various sizes and orientations are the predominant morphology. In the subsurface, Holocene- and Pleistocene-age features include marine transgressive deposits infilling older fluvia distributary systems. These interpretations from the geophysical research were integrated with sediment cores collected by the USGS and USACE to provide textural and volumetric information.

Publication Year 2015
Title Near-surface stratigraphy and morphology, Mississippi Inner Shelf, northern Gulf of Mexico
DOI 10.3133/ofr20151014
Authors James G. Flocks, Jack Kindinger, Kyle W. Kelso, Julie Bernier, Nancy T. DeWitt, Michael FitzHarris
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2015-1014
Index ID ofr20151014
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center