Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geology)

First Advisor

Dr. Kevin M. Yeager

Abstract

The Pearl River Delta (PRD) in southeastern Louisiana is an actively deforming deltaic complex displaying surface and near-surface evidence of growth faulting. Active growth faults in these environments are rarely identified at the surface, in part because the downthrown blocks often experience increased rates of sediment deposition leading to an obscured and low-relief, or entirely absent, surface expression. Faulting can be expressed in fluvial systems as changes in channel gradient, which often result in coincident changes in channel sinuosity, migration rates, planform deflections, and/or ponding features within the deformed zone. The study area is focused on a meander bend of the West Pearl River (WPR). The nature of the meander bend suggests the likely presence of a short growth fault controlling channel morphology. This research tested the hypotheses that active near-surface growth faulting is constraining the tortuous meander bend of the WPR and that growth faults, where present and active, are strongly coupled to channel meander planform changes and marsh vertical accretion rates in the PRD. Tools including shallow lithostratigraphy, use of fallout radionuclides (210Pb, 137Cs, 7Be) to quantify marsh vertical accretion rates, and a ~73 year record of WPR channel migration show that active growth faulting exists along the northern bend of the WPR with resultant lateral channel deflection. Evidence of this growth fault suggests further, eastward extension of the Baton Rouge Fault Zone (BRFZ) into the PRD.

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