Occupation of a Relict Distributary System by a New Tidal Inlet, Quatre Bayou Pass, Louisiana

  1. B. W. Flemming and
  2. A. Bartholomä
  1. D. R. Levin1,2

Published Online: 14 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304138.ch5

Tidal Signatures in Modern and Ancient Sediments

Tidal Signatures in Modern and Ancient Sediments

How to Cite

Levin, D. R. (1995) Occupation of a Relict Distributary System by a New Tidal Inlet, Quatre Bayou Pass, Louisiana, in Tidal Signatures in Modern and Ancient Sediments (eds B. W. Flemming and A. Bartholomä), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304138.ch5

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Marine Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La 70803, USA

  2. 2

    Department of Science, Bryant College Smithfield, RI 02917-1284, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 11 AUG 1995

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780865429789

Online ISBN: 9781444304138



  • Quatre Bayou Pass (QBP);
  • flood-tidal deltas (FTD);
  • QBP - tide-dominated inlet;
  • Grand Terre barrier, part of transgressive shoreline;
  • Barataria area, containing wide range of lithofacies;
  • contoured isobaths - not revealing ebb-tidal delta;
  • minimal lateral migration of tidal inlet channels


It has long been suspected that some Louisiana tidal inlets occupy old distributary channels because they do not migrate significant distances alongshore. Historical information coupled with an intensive coring programme supports this contention for Quatre Bayou Pass (QBP), a tide-dominated inlet located in the microtidal Barataria Bight, Louisiana.

Cat Bayou, a levee-bound distributary channel, was mapped on the east side of the QBP opening in 1842. Coincident with levee breeches prior to 1886, the backbarrier marsh became channelized producing more efficient conduits for Barataria Bay tidal flux. By 1934, the Cat Bayou channel was largely abandoned and a narrow, meandering, 8-m deep channel was established on the west side of the inlet opening. Vibracores reveal that the thalweg of this inlet is anchored in place by erosion-resistant channel walls of a relict distributary. There was no core evidence that the channel had migrated to its new position.

Apparent coastwise migration of the inlet thalweg is related to the degree of meander in the evacuated channel system. During transgression the inlet throat is resituated within the antecedent meander position. Subsurface recognition of this phenomenon requires identification of marine sediments filling a non-migratory channel that incises delta plain facies.