Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists find slow subsidence of Earth's crust beneath the Mississippi delta

Date:
April 2, 2012
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
The Earth's crust beneath the Mississippi Delta sinks at a much slower rate than what had been assumed. The researchers arrived at their conclusions by comparing detailed sea-level reconstructions from different portions of coastal Louisiana.

Aerial view of Delacroix, Louisiana, mostly abandoned due to sea-level rise and wetland loss.
Credit: Tor Törnqvist

Earth's crust beneath the Mississippi Delta sinks at a much slower rate than what had been assumed.

That's one of the results geoscientists report April 2 in a paper published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

The researchers arrived at their conclusions by comparing detailed sea-level reconstructions from different portions of coastal Louisiana.

"The findings demonstrate the value of research on different facets of Earth system dynamics over long time periods," says Thomas Baerwald, geography and spatial sciences program director at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

NSF's Directorates for Geosciences and for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences funded the research.

"The results provide valuable new insights about the factors that affect shorelines and other locations in the Gulf Coast area now and into the future," says Baerwald.

"Our study shows that the basement underneath key portions of the Mississippi Delta, including the New Orleans area, has subsided less than one inch per century faster over the past 7,000 years than the more stable area of southwest Louisiana," says paper co-author Torbjörn Törnqvist of Tulane University.

The difference is much lower than previously believed.

"Other studies have assumed that a large portion of the Earth's crust underneath the Mississippi Delta subsided at least 30 times faster due to the weight of rapidly accumulating sediments in the delta," says Törnqvist.

The paper, co-authored by Tulane scientists Shi-Yong Yu and Ping Hu, reveals some good news for residents of the New Orleans area.

Large structures such as coastal defense systems could be relatively stable, provided they are anchored in the basement at a depth of 60-80 feet below the land surface.

Shallower, water-rich deposits subside much more rapidly.

However, the study also provides more sobering news.

"These subsidence rates are small compared to the rate of present-day sea-level rise from the Florida panhandle to east Texas," says Törnqvist.

"The rate of sea-level rise in the 20th century in this region has been five times higher compared to the pre-industrial millennium as a result of human-induced climate change."

Sea level has risen more than eight inches during the past century.

"Looking forward 100 years, our main concern is the continued acceleration of sea-level rise due to global warming, which may amount to as much as three to five feet," says Törnqvist.

"We can now show that sea-level rise has already been a larger factor in the loss of coastal wetlands than was previously believed."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Shi-Yong Yu, Torbjörn E. Törnqvist, Ping Hu. Quantifying Holocene lithospheric subsidence rates underneath the Mississippi Delta. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2012; 331-332: 21 DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.02.021

Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Scientists find slow subsidence of Earth's crust beneath the Mississippi delta." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402124452.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2012, April 2). Scientists find slow subsidence of Earth's crust beneath the Mississippi delta. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402124452.htm
National Science Foundation. "Scientists find slow subsidence of Earth's crust beneath the Mississippi delta." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402124452.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) — The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins