Latest Holocene evolution and human disturbance of a channel segment in the Hudson River Estuary

TitleLatest Holocene evolution and human disturbance of a channel segment in the Hudson River Estuary
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsKlingbeil, AD, Sommerfield, CK
JournalMarine Geology
Date PublishedJun 30
Accession NumberWOS:000230274900008

The latest Holocene sedimentary record of a cohesive channel and subtidal shoal in the lower Hudson River Estuary was examined to elucidate natural (sea-level rise, sediment transport) and anthropogenic (bulkheading, dredging) influences oil the recent morphodynamic evolution of the system. To characterize the seafloor and shallow subbottom, similar to 100 km of high-resolution seismic reflection profiles (chirp) were collected within a 20-km reach of the estuary and correlated with sediment lithologies provided by eight vibracores recovered along seismic lines. Sediment geochronology with Cs-137 and C-14 was used to estimate intermediate and long-term sedimentation rates, respectively, and historical bathyrnetric data were analyzed to identify regional patterns of accretion and erosion, and to quantify changes in channel geometry and sediment volume.The shoal lithosome originated around 4 ka presumably with decelerating eustatic sea level rise during the latest Holocene. Long-term sedimentation rates on the shoal (2.3-2.6 mm/yr) are higher than in the channel (2 mm/yr) owing to hydrodynamic conditions that preferentially sequester suspended sediment on the western side of the estuary. As a result, the shoal accretes oblique to the principal axis of tidal transport, and more rapidly than the channel to produce an asymmetric cross-section. Shoal deposits consist of tidally bedded muds and are stratified by minor erosion surfaces that seismic profiles reveal to extend for I Os of meters to kilometers. The frequency and continuity of these Surfaces suggest that the surficial shoal is catastrophically stripped on decadal-centennial time scales by elevated tidal flows. tidal erosion maintains the shoal at a uniform depth below sea level and prevents it from transitioning to an intertidal environment. Consequently, the long-term sedimentation rate approximates the rate of sea-level rise in the lower estuary (1-3 mm/yr).