Evidence for a transgressive barrier within a regressive strandplain system: Implications for complex coastal response to environmental change

Authors

  • CHRISTOPHER J. HEIN,

    1. Department of Earth Sciences, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215, USA (E-mail: hein@whoi.edu)
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    • Present address: Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 266 Woods Hole Road, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.

  • DUNCAN M. FitzGERALD,

    1. Department of Earth Sciences, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215, USA (E-mail: hein@whoi.edu)
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  • WILLIAM J. CLEARY,

    1. Center for Marine Science, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 5600 Marvin K. Moss Lane, Wilmington, NC 28409, USA
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  • MARCIO B. ALBERNAZ,

    1. Laboratory of Geological Oceanography, Laboratory of Geoprocessing and Remote Sensing, UNIVALI – CTTMAR, Itajaí– SC, Brazil
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    • Present address: Technology University of Delft, Civil Engineering and Geosciences Department, Delft, The Netherlands.

  • JOAO THADEU De MENEZES,

    1. Laboratory of Geological Oceanography, Laboratory of Geoprocessing and Remote Sensing, UNIVALI – CTTMAR, Itajaí– SC, Brazil
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  • ANTONIO H. da F. KLEIN

    1. Department of Geosciences, Center for Philosophy and Human Sciences, Federal University of Santa Catarina, University Campus – Trindade, 88·040–900, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil

      Associate Editor – Dave Mallinson
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Abstract

Clastic, depositional strandplain systems have the potential to record changes in the primary drivers of coastal evolution: climate, sea-level, and the frequency of major meteorological and oceanographic events. This study seeks to use one such record from a southern Brazilian strandplain to highlight the potentially-complex nature of coastal sedimentological response to small changes in these drivers. Following a 2 to 4 m highstand at ca 5·8 ka in southern Brazil, falling sea-level reworked shelf sediment onshore, forcing coastal progradation, smoothing the irregular coastline and forming the 5 km wide Pinheira Strandplain, composed of ca 500 successive beach and dune ridges. Sediment cores, grab samples and >11 km of ground-penetrating radar profiles reveal that the strandplain sequence is composed of well-sorted, fine to very-fine quartz sand. Since the mid-Holocene highstand, the shoreline prograded at a rate of ca 1 to 2 m yr−1 through the deposition of a 4 to 6 m thick shoreface unit; a 1 to 3 m thick foreshore unit containing ubiquitous ridge and runnel facies; and an uppermost beach and foredune unit. However, the discovery of a linear, 100 m wide barrier ridge with associated washover units, a 3 to 4 m deep lagoon and 250 m wide tidal inlet within the strandplain sequence reveals a period of shoreline transgression at 3·3 to 2·8 ka during the otherwise regressive developmental history of the plain. The protected nature of Pinheira largely buffered it from changes in precipitation patterns, wave energy and fluvial sediment supply during the time of its formation. However, multiple lines of evidence indicate that a change in the rate of relative sea-level fall, probably due to either steric or ice-volume effects, may have affected this coastline. Thus, whereas these other potential drivers cannot be fully discounted, this study provides insights into the complexity of decadal-scale to millennial-scale coastal response to likely variability in sea-level change rates.

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