Geological and oceanographic perspectives on event bed formation during Hurricane Katrina

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Abstract

[1] Storm deposits in ancient shelf sediments typically form thick sequences of interbedded sand and mud deposited during shoreline regression, whereas modern shelf sediments are generally thin veneers deposited during shoreline transgression. In this paper we present a preliminary comparison between ancient and modern storm beds deposited in these disparate contexts. Hurricane Katrina deposited a storm bed on the Louisiana shelf with a maximum observed thickness of 0.58 m, which thinned to approximately 0.1 m at 200 km west of landfall. This thickness is similar to event beds observed in both ancient and modern sediments. Using data for tropical cyclone landfalls in the Gulf of Mexico, we estimate the return time for a storm of this size to be 40–50 years in this region. This estimated frequency for deposition of storm beds is useful in evaluating ancient storm sequences that were deposited during similar climatic conditions.

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