As sea level rises and hurricanes become more intense, barrier islands around the world become increasingly vulnerable to conversion from self-sustaining migrating landforms to submerging or subaqueous sand bodies. To explore the mechanism by which such state changes occur and to assess the factors leading to island disintegration, we develop a suite of numerical simulations for the Chandeleur Islands in Louisiana, U.S.A., which appear to be on the verge of this transition. Our results suggest that the Chandeleurs are likely poised to change state, leading to their demise, within decades depending on future storm history. Contributing factors include high rates of relative sea level rise, limited sediment supply, muddy substrate, current island position relative to former Mississippi River distributary channels, and the effects of changes in island morphology on sediment transport pathways. Although deltaic barrier islands are most sensitive to disintegration because of their muddy substrate, the importance of relative sea level rise rate in determining the timing of threshold crossing suggests that the conceptual models for deltaic barrier island formation and disintegration may apply more broadly in the future.
|Title||The potential for sea-level-rise-induced barrier island loss: Insights from the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana, USA|
|Authors||Laura J. Moore, Kiki Patsch, Jeffrey H. List, S. Jeffress Williams|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Marine Geology|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center|