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Trends in Chesapeake Bay Sedimentation Rates during the Late Holocene

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Joseph F. Donoghue
Department of Geology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306 USA


Trends are discernible in the estimates of late Holocene rates of sedimentation and sea-level rise for the Chesapeake Bay. During most of the Holocene Epoch sedimentation rates and relative sea-level rise were equal, within the limits of measurement, at approximately 1 mm yr−1. Sedimentation rates measured over the past century, however, are nearly an order of magnitude higher, while the rate of relative sea-level rise for the Chesapeake Bay now averages 3.3 mm yr−1, as measured on long-term tide gauge records. When the acceleration in these rates occurred is uncertain, but it appears to have been confined to the past millennium, and probably to the past few centuries. The rapid sedimentation rates recorded during historic time may be a temporary disequilibrium that has resulted from a recent acceleration in the rate of relative sea-level rise.

University of Washington

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