Geomorphological relationships through the use of 2-D seismic reflection data, Lidar, and aerial imagery

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University of Alabama Libraries

Barrier Islands are crucial in protecting coastal environments. This study focuses on Dauphin Island, Alabama, located within the Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) Barrier Island complex. It is one of many islands serving as natural protection for NGOM ecosystems and coastal cities. The NGOM barrier islands formed at 4 kya in response to a decrease in rate of sea level rise. The morphology of these islands changes with hurricanes, anthropogenic activity, and tidal and wave action. This study focuses on ancient incised valleys and and the impact on island morphology on hurricane breaches. Using high frequency 2-D seismic reflection data four horizons, including the present seafloor, were interpreted. Subaerial portions of Dauphin Island were imaged using Lidar data and aerial imagery over a ten-year time span, as well as historical maps. Historical shorelines of Dauphin Island were extracted from aerial imagery and historical maps, and were compared to the location of incised valleys seen within the 2-D seismic reflection data. Erosion and deposition volumes of Dauphin Island from 1998 to 2010 (the time span covering hurricanes Ivan and Katrina) in the vicinity of Katrina Cut and Pelican Island were quantified using Lidar data. For the time period prior to Hurricane Ivan an erosional volume of 46,382,552 m3 and depositional volume of 16,113.6 m3 were quantified from Lidar data. The effects of Hurricane Ivan produced a total erosion volume of 4,076,041.5 m3. The erosional and depositional volumes of Katrina Cut being were 7,562,068.5 m3 and 510,936.7 m3, respectively. More volume change was found within Pelican Pass. For the period between hurricanes Ivan and Katrina the erosion volume was 595,713.8 m3. This was mostly located within Katrina Cut. Total deposition for the same period, including in Pelican Pass, was 15,353,961 m3. Hurricane breaches were compared to ancient incised valleys seen within the 2-D seismic reflection results. Breaches from hurricanes from 1849, 1916, and 2005 all correlated with incised valley. Interpretations from horizons A and P correlated well with the 1849 shoreline, while Horizon B correlated best with the 1916 and 2005 hurricane breaches. The correlation of incised valleys and breaches provides a probable causation of breach locations. With further investigations, determination of the impacts of these relict valleys can be validated and established. Preferential subsidence within the relict incised valleys would account for the lower elevations on the island surface. Very fine to fine grained sediment deposits from the Mobile Bay would contribute to preferential subsidence. The lower elevations are more likely to erode from overwash and surges during strong storm systems.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Geology, Geomorphology