An evaluation of subsidence rates and sea-level variability in the northern Gulf of Mexico



[1] While subsidence is widely recognized as a driver of geomorphic change in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM), there is considerable disagreement over the rates of subsidence and the interpreted variability in these rates, which leads to controversies over the impacts of subsidence on surface land area change. Here we present a new method to calculate subsidence rates from the tide gauge record that is based on an understanding of the meteorological drivers of inter-annual sea-level change. In Grand Isle, LA and Galveston, TX, we explicitly show that temporal patterns of subsidence are closely linked to subsurface fluid withdrawal and coastal land loss, and suggest changes in withdrawal rates can both increase and decrease rates of subsidence and wetland loss. Our results also imply that the volume of sediment needed to rebuild GOM wetlands may currently fall within the low end of some restoration scenarios.