Coastal Response to Holocene Environmental Change

Brazil Beach

Overview

The impacts of climate change and accelerated relative-sea-level rise are expected to have broad implications for society: nearly 200 cities with populations greater than 50,000, and trillions of dollars worth of infrastructure, are located within 6 m of modern sea level. Understanding past coastal responses to climate and sea-level change at local and regional scales is crucial to our ability to predict future climate-change impacts on these systems over decadal to centennial timescales. Progradational strandplains and beach-ridge plains are found worldwide and have the potential to record minor variability in sea level, sediment supply, and storminess, thus providing just this insight into past coastal behavior. By comparing variability in the mid-Holocene highstand shorelines and fronting strandplain systems across sites in South America, we are working to discretize the coastal signatures of changes in sea level, regional climate, and terrestrial sediment supply over the past 6000 years. For the latter, we are notably interested in not just the amount of terrestrial sediment reaching the coast, but also the type (sand, mud) of sediment delivered by river systems, and how this is controlled by regional-scale climate changes. In the Northern Hemisphere, we are using the records provided within the Miquelon-Langlade beach-ridge plain (~50 km south of Newfoundland) to investigate the role of climate changes over the past 3000 years in the delivery rates of each sandy and gravelly sediment to the coast.

 

Current Studies

Tijucas Strandplain, Brazil: Records of landscape response to Holocene climate dynamics and terrestrial sediment supply
Overview: River-associated sAerial view of the Tijucas Strandplain. Note the large mud plume at the mouth of the Tijucas River (center). Photo courtesy of D. FitzGerald.trandplains formed in regimes of abundant sediment supply and sea-level fall have the potential to record changes in the volumes and nature (type) of sediment delivered to them during the period of formation. This study uses the 5-km-wide Tijucas Strandplain in southern Brazil as a 5500-year-long record of fluvial sediment export to the coast to investigate the nature of landscape response to Holocene climate change and the imprints of these responses in the coastal environment. This strandplain records decadal- to centennial-scale changes in sediment supply from the Tijucas River in the form of alternating, shore-parallel sand- and mud-dominated facies. Geophysical, sedimentological and geochemical analyses of these transitions demonstrate that climate-driven changes in river sediments exported to the coast can control sedimentation in fluvially-dominated settings. Specifically, preliminary compound-specific organic geochemical data (δ13C, δD, Δ14C) allow for the correlation of precipitation seasonality over the Tijucas River basin to the export of coarser sediments to the Tijucas River and the periodic formation of a sand-dominated coastline.
Collaborators: Duncan FitzGerald (Boston University), Valier Galy (WHOI), Steve Petsch (UMass Amherst), Antonio Klein (Federal University of Santa Catarina), João Thadeu de Menezes (UNIVALI)

Miquelon-Langlade, France: Coastal responses to climate change along a coarse-grained beach-ridge plain in the North Atlantic
Overview: Beach ridges serve as markers of past shoreline positions. Ridge truncations, changing orientations, and geometries reveal their depositional history and the factors (climate, sea level, sediment supply) controlling their formation. This study, lead by collaborators at the University of Perpignan, uses ground-penetrating radar, sediment cores and OSL dates to investigate the beach-ridge plain of the Miquelon-Langlade Barrier (France). This plain is composed of ~70 mixed sand-and-gravel ridges, deposited over the past ~2400Aerial view of the Miquelon-Langlade beach-ridge plain (looking north-northeast). © Thibaut Vergoz / CNRS Images (thibaut.vergoz@gmail.com). years during long periods of bi-directional progradation, interrupted by major erosional events. Large (up to 12 m high) aeolian dunes superimposed on the progradational plain are evidence of periods of either shoreline stability or higher sandy sediment inputs.
Collaborators: Julie Billy (University of Perpignan Via Domitia), Nicolas Robin (University of Perpignan Via Domitia), Duncan FitzGerald (Boston University), Raphael Certain (University of Perpignan Via Domitia)
Funding Sources: le Ministère d'état de l'Outre-Mer; le Conseil Territorial de Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon; la Direction des Territoires, de l'Alimentation et de la Mer; le Conservatoire du littoral; University of Perpignan Via Domitia
 

Past Studies

Wadi Gawasis, Egypt: Complex coastal responses to coupled changes in sea level and sediment supply at an ancient Pharaonic Harbor on the Red Sea
A wave-cut notch (evidence of a sea-level highstand ~4000 years ago) at the mouth of Wadi Gawasis, along the Red Sea in Egypt. This site is home to the world's oldest archaeological evidence of long-distance seafaring and was occupied during the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt.Overview: A complete understanding of coastal response to environmental change can only be obtained by investigating coupled responses in sea level, sediment supply, and storminess. This study focused on the natural infilling of a 4000-year-old Egyptian harbor along the Red Sea coast. It confirmed the existence of a highstand of sea level in the northern Red Sea during the mid-Holocene. Furthermore, by comparing observed bay-infilling rates, derived from stratigraphic correlations and radiocarbon dates, to modeled sea-level variations and published climate-proxy records for northern Africa over the past 6000 years, we were able to trace the coastal impacts of concurrent changes in fluvial sediment supply and sea level. This study uncovered how modifications in terrestrial precipitation patterns, driven by climate change, can overprint the coastal impacts of moderate sea-level changes.
Collaborators: Duncan FitzGerald (Boston University), Glenn Milne (University of Ottawa), Kathryn Bard (Boston University), Rodolfo Fattovich (University of Naples “L'Orientale”)
Funding Sources: Wallace Sellers (site benefactor; deceased); Geological Society of America Farouk El Baz Student Desert Research Fellowship; National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility (NOSAMS).



Pinheira & Navegantes Strandplains, Brazil: Coastal response to changes in sea level and storminess

Coring the 3.2 kyr barrier island at Pinheira Strandplain, Brazil. The buried paleo-barrier is covered with more recent and active aeolian dunes. Photo courtesy of W. Cleary.

Overview: Along the eastern and southern Brazilian coasts of South America, progradation over the last 6000 years has stranded late-stage transgressive and sea-level highstand features 1–4 m above present mean sea level and formed wide strandplains that record the imprints of late Holocene changes in climate and sea level, as well as major meteorological and oceanographic events. These studies focused on three aspects of the records provided by these strandplains:
  1. Studies of four different sea-level highstand deposits preserved in the Navegantes Strandplain initiated the compilation and classification of depositional evidence of the highstand across the Brazilian coast. Highstand deposits were classified according to local conditions of upland migration potential, wave exposure and sediment supply. Insights from both Navegantes and across the broader coastline allowed us to recognize a minimum threshold sea-level-rise rate of 2 mm/yr above which transgression proceeded too rapidly for the formation of these stable accretionary shoreline features in Brazil, and highlight the site-specificity of conditions associated with the formation of each highstand deposit type, even along short (several km) sections of coast.
  2. The discovery of a paleo-barrier sequence within the Pinheira Strandplain revealed a period of shoreline transgression at 3300-2800 years ago. 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, was likely responsible for this temporary change in coast type. This study provides insights into the complexity of decadal-scale to millennial-scale coastal response to likely variability in sea-level change rates.
  3. A study of the geological signatures of tropical south Atlantic cyclones preserved within the Navegantes strandplain was lead by our collaborator, Ilya Buynevich, and his student, Dago Mosquera. They used ground-penetrating radar and sediment cores to uncover evidence of intense storm impacts during the last several thousand years in southern Brazil. They found that the recurrence intervals of these storms were ~200 years in the earlier part of the last millennium, with 100-120 years periodicity over the past 500 years.
Collaborators: Duncan FitzGerald (Boston University), Marcio Albernaz (Tetra Tech), Antonio Klein (Federal University of Santa Catarina), João Thadeu de Menezes (UNIVALI), Ilya Buynevich (Temple University), William Cleary (University of North Carolina, Wilmington)
Funding Sources: American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund; Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico ("National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development"); Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa e Inovação do Estado de Santa Catarina ("Foundation for Research and Innovation in the State of Santa Catarina"); CTTMAR/PROPEC/UNIVALI

 

Publications

Please feel free to contact us for pdf copies of any of the following publications.  Note: * - student author

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., *de Souza, L.H.P., Georgiou, I.Y., Buynevich, I.V., Klein, A.H.F., de Menezes, J.T., Cleary, W.J., *Scolaro, T., 2016, Complex coastal change in response to autogenic basin infilling: An example from a sub-tropical Holocene strandplain, Sedimentology, v. 63, no. 6, p. 1362-1395, doi: 10.1111/sed.12265.

Billy, J., Robin, N., Hein, C.J., Certain, R., FitzGerald, D.M., 2015, Insight into the Late Holocene sea-level changes in the NW Atlantic from a Paraglacial Beach-Ridge Plain South of Newfoundland, Geomorphology, v. 248, p. 134-146.

Hein, C.J., Georgiou, I.Y., FitzGerald, D.M., *de Souza, L.H.P., Klein, A.H.F., de Menezes, J.T, 2015. Wave energy, sediment supply, and sea-level fall: Late Holocene basin infilling in southern Brazil, In: Coastal Sediments ’15, Proceedings of the 11th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Klein, A.H.F., de Menezes, J.T., *Albernaz, M.B., 2014, Coastal response to late-stage transgression and sea-level highstand, Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 126, no. 3/4, p. 459-480, doi: 10.1130/B30836.1.

*Billy, J., Robin, N., Hein, C.J., Certain, R., FitzGerald, D.M., 2014, Internal architecture of mixed sand-and-gravel beach ridges: Miquelon-Langlade Barrier, NW Atlantic, Marine Geology, v. 357, p. 53-71, doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2014.07.011.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., *Albernaz, M.B., de Menezes, J.T., Klein, A.H.F., 2013, Evidence for a transgressive barrier within a regressive strandplain system: Implications for complex coastal response to environmental change, Sedimentology, v. 60, p. 469-502.

*Billy, J., Robin, N., Certain, R., Hein, C.J., Berné, S., 2013, Barrier shoreline evolution constrained by shoreface sediment reservoir and substrate control: The Miquelon-Langlade Barrier, NW Atlantic, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 65, p. 2089-2094.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Milne, G.A., Bard, K.A., and Fattovich, R., 2011, Evolution of a Pharaonic harbor on the Red Sea: Implications for coastal response to changes in sea level and climate, Geology, v. 39, no. 7, p. 687-690.

Buynevich, I.V., Klein, A. H. F., FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Hein, C.J., Veiga, F.A., Angulo, R.J., Asp, N.E., Petermann, R., 2011, Geological legacy of storm erosion along a high-energy indented coastline: northern Santa Catarina, Brazil, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 64, p. 1840-1844.

FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Buynevich, I.V., Hein, C.J., Klein, A.H.F., Asp, N., Angulo, R, 2007. Strandplain evolution along the southern coast of Santa Catarina, Brazil, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 50, p. 152-156.

 

Abstracts & Presentations

Links below will bring you to online, downloadable versions of recent ppt presentations or posters. Or, feel free to contact us for pdf copies of any of the following abstracts or their associated presentations or posters.  Note: * - student author

Hein, C.J., Georgiou, I.Y., FitzGerald, D.M., *de Souza, L.H.P., 2015, Wave energy, sediment supply and sea-level fall: Late Holocene basin infilling in southern Brazil, Coastal Sediments ’15, San Diego, CA, May, 2015.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., de Menezes, J.T., Klein, A.H.d.F., Albernaz, M.B., Cleary, W.J., Depositional signatures associated with late-stage transgression and the mid-Holocene sea-level highstand in Brazil, GSA Abs. with Programs, vol. 46, no 6, abs. 249114.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., de Menezes, J.T., Klein, A.H.d.F., Albernaz, M.B., Cleary, W.J., Coastal response to late-stage transgression and sea-level highstand in Brazil, GSA Annual Meeting, substitute invited talk.

Robin, N., Barusseau, J.P., *Billy, J., Certain, R., Cormier, V., FitzGerald, D., Hein, C., Levoy, F., Monfort, O., 2014, St. Pierre and Miquelon Archipelago: Coastal knowledge statement and field actions, Coastal Zone Canada 2014.

*Billy, J., Robin, N., Certain, R., Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D., 2014, Geo-chronological pattern of the Miquelon-Langlade beach-ridge plain formation (NW Atlantic), International Coastal Symposium 2014: Durban, South Africa, 13-17 April 2014.

Hein, C.J., Bard, K.A., Cleary, W.M., Fattovich, R., FitzGerald, D.M., Klein, A.H.F., de Menezes, J.T., Milne, G.A., Petsch, S.T., 2013, Beyond sea-level rise: Coastal response to climate-driven changes in fluvial sediment supply, Penrose-Chapman Conference: Coastal Processes and Environments Under Sea-Level Rise and Changing Climate: Science to Inform Management: Galveston, TX, 14–19 April 2013.

*Billy, J., Robin, N., Certain, R., Hein, C., FitzGerald, D. 2013, Architecture interne par Géo-Radar (GPR) de la plaine de beach-ridges, mixte sable-galet, de Miquelon-Langlade (N-O Atlantique). 14 ème Congrès Français de Sédimentologie (ASF), Paris, Centre de congrès de La Vilette cité des sciences et de l'industrie, 4-8 Novembre 2013. Livre des résumés p 38.

*Billy, J., Robin, N., Certain, R., Hein, C.J., Berne, S., 2013, Coastal barrier behavior in relation to nearshore sediment supply: the Miquelon-Langlade Barrier, France, International Coastal Symposium 2013: Plymouth, UK, 8-12 April 2013.

Mosquera, D., Buynevich, I.V., Klein, A.H.F., FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Hein, C.J., Angulo, R.J., 2013, Paleo-scarp gradients within the outer Navegantes Strandplain, Brazil: Subsurface signatures of cyclones over the past 1,000 years, GSA Southeastern Section Abstracts with Programs, San Juan, Puerto Rico, v. 45, p. 15..

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., de Menezes, J.T., Klein, A.H.F., Albernaz, M.B., 2012, Diverse sedimentological signatures of the mid-Holocene highstand in Brazil, Eos Transactions, AGU, Fall Meeting Suppl., Abstract EP33B-0898.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D., Milne, G., Bard, K.A., Fattovich, R., 2011, Holocene sea-level and climatic variability along the African Red Sea coast: Impacts on an ancient Egyptian civilization and implications for future coastal response to climate change, International Union for Quaternary Research, XVIII INQUA-Congress, 20-27 July 2011, Bern, Switzerland.

FitzGerald, D.M., Hein, C.J., Cleary, W., de Menezes, J.T., Klein, A.H.F., Scolaro, T.*, Buynevich, I.V. Petsch, S.T., 2011, Climatic and sedimentological forcing of strandplain progradation at Tijucas, Central Santa Catarina, Brazil, International Union for Quaternary Research, XVIII INQUA-Congress, 20-27 July 2011, Bern, Switzerland.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Albernaz, M.B.*, Cleary, W. de Menezes, J.T., Klein, A.H.F., 2010, Geophysical examination of a Brazilian strandplain-barrier system: implications for mid- to late- Holocene sea-level fall in the southern hemisphere, GSA Abs. with Programs, vol. 42, no 5, p. 523.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D., Bard, K.A., Fattovich, R., Milne, G., 2010, The Role of Falling Sea Level and Bay Infilling in the Closure of an Ancient Egyptian Harbor, GSA Abs. with Programs, vol. 42, no 1, p. 130.

Hein, C.J. and FitzGerald, D.M., 2008, The Search for a Middle Kingdom Harbor: Geological Investigations at Mersa/Wadi Gawasis, Egypt, Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale Annual Conference: Cairo, Egypt, 29 December 2008.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D., Bard, K.A., Fattovich, R., Zazzaro, C., 2008, Geological Investigations of a Middle Kingdom Harbor: Wadi Gawasis, Egypt, GSA Abs. with Programs, vol. 40, No. 6, p. 384.

FitzGerald, D.M., Clearly, W.J., Buynevich, I.V., Hein, C.J., Klein, A.H.F., Asp, N., Angulo, R., 2008, Diverse Styles of Coastal Evolution Along Santa Catarina, Brazil, American Quaternary Association, State College, PA, 5-7 June 2008.

FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Buynevich, I.V., Hein, C.J., Klein, A.H.F., Asp, N., Angulo, R, 2007. Strandplain evolution along the southern coast of Santa Catarina, Brazil. International Coastal Symposium 2007: Gold Coast, Australia, 16-20 April, 2007.

FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Buynevich, I.V., Hein, C.J.,  Klein, A.H.F, Asp, N.E, Angulo, R., 2006, Variability of Strandplain Development in Santa Catarina, Brazil, IGCP 495 Conference, Balneário Camboriú, Santa Catarina, Brazil, 16-22 September 2006.

FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Buynevich, I.V., Klein, A.H.F., Hughes, Z., Hein, C.J.,  Asp, N.E, 2006, Patterns of Mud Deposition in the Tijucas Bay, Santa Catarina, Brazil, IGCP 495 Conference, Balneário Camboriú, Santa Catarina, Brazil, 16-22 September 2006.

Buynevich, I.V., Cleary, W.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Klein, A.H.F, Asp, N.E., Hein, C.J., Veiga, F.A., Angulo, R., Peterman, R.M., 2006, Modern and Ancient Erosion Indicators on a High-Energy Coast: Camboriú Peninsula and Navegantes Plain, SC, Brazil, IGCP 495 Conference, Balneário Camboriú, Santa Catarina, Brazil, 16-22 September 2006.