The complex influences of back-barrier deposition, substrate slope and underlying stratigraphy in barrier island response to sea-level rise: Insights from the Virginia Barrier Islands, Mid-Atlantic Bight, U.S.A.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

To understand the relative importance of back barrier environment, substrate slope and underlying stratigraphy in determining barrier island response to RSLR (relative sea-level rise), we use a morphological-behavior model (GEOMBEST) to conduct a series of sensitivity experiments, based on late-Holocene hindcast simulations of an island in the U.S. mid-Atlantic Bight (Metompkin Island, VA) having both salt marsh and lagoonal back-barrier environments, and we draw comparisons between these results and future simulations (2000-2100. AD) of island response to RSLR. Sensitivity analyses indicate that, as a whole, the island is highly sensitive to factors that reduce overall sand availability (i.e., high sand-loss rates and substrates containing little sand). Results also indicate that for all predicted future RSLR scenarios tested, islands having high substrate sand proportions (if allowed to migrate freely) will likely remain subaerial for centuries because of sufficient substrate sand supply and elevation to assist in keeping islands above sea level. Simulation results also lead to basic insights regarding the interactions among substrate slope, back-barrier deposition and island migration rates. In contrast to previous studies, which suggest that changes in substrate slope directly affect the island migration trajectory, we find that-in the presence of back-barrier deposition-the connection between substrate slope and island behavior is modulated (i.e., variability in migration rates is dampened) by changes in back-barrier width. These interactions-which tend to produce changes in shoreface sand content-lead to a negative feedback when the back-barrier deposit contains less sand than the underlying layer, resulting in a stable back-barrier width. Alternatively, a positive feedback arises when the back-barrier deposit contains more sand than the underlying layer, resulting in either back-barrier disappearance or perpetual widening.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brenner, OT; Moore, LJ; Murray, AB

Published Date

  • July 4, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 246 /

Start / End Page

  • 334 - 350

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0169-555X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.geomorph.2015.06.014

Citation Source

  • Scopus