Current subsidence rates due to compaction of Holocene sediments in southern Louisiana

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Abstract

[1] Relative contributions of geologic and anthropogenic processes to subsidence of southern Louisiana are vigorously debated. Of these, shallow sediment compaction is often considered dominant, although this has never been directly observed or effectively demonstrated. Quantitative understanding of subsidence is important for predicting relative sea level rise, storm surge flooding due to hurricanes, and for successful wetland restoration. Despite many shallow borings, few appropriate stratigraphic and geotechnical data are available for site-specific calculations. We overcome this by determining present compaction rates from Monte Carlo simulations of the incremental sedimentation and compaction of stratigraphies typical of the Holocene of southern Louisiana. This approach generates distributions of present compaction rates that are not expected to exceed 5 mm/yr, but may locally. Locations with present subsidence rates greater than the predicted maximum probable shallow compaction rates are likely influenced by additional processes.

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