Cyclonic Events and Sedimentation in the Gulf of Mexico

by Wayne C. Isphording, Univ of South Alabama, Mobile, United States,
F. Dewayne Imsand, Univ of South Alabama, Mobile, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Sediments


An ample literature exists documenting the destructive effects hurricanes have upon offshore barrier islands and coastlines. The Gulf of Mexico region has been especially heavily impacted because of its unique position with respect to the storm track of tropical cyclones and the large area of unprotected shoreline around its perimeter. While abundant descriptions can be found documenting effects of storms on exposed geomorphological features, little information is available illustrating changes involving submarine erosion. From a geological standpoint, these are equally striking. Studies carried out in Apalachicola Bay, Florida and Mobile Bay, Alabama have shown that the passage of hurricanes can not only incise sizeable submarine channels but can also remove vast quantities of sediment. The passage of Hurricane Elena near Apalachicola Bay in 1985 removed some 87 million tons of sediment from the bay; Hurricane Frederic's near miss of the Mobile, Alabama area in 1979 removed an incredible amount of sediment that was estimated at nearly 300 million tons. When placed in a geological framework, the latter hurricane's passage swept a volume of sediment from the bay equivalent to that deposited by the Mississippi River in a one year period.

Subject Headings: Sediment | Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones | Gulfs | Developing countries | Bays | Sediment transport | Geology | Tropical regions | Gulf of Mexico | United States | Alabama | Florida | Mississippi River

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