Evaluation of Boulder Deposits Linked to Late Neogene Hurricane Events

A special issue of Journal of Marine Science and Engineering (ISSN 2077-1312). This special issue belongs to the section "Geological Oceanography".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 May 2021) | Viewed by 21019

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Geosciences Department, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA
Interests: paleoecology; rocky-shore ecosystems; island dynamics; phanerozoic sea-level changes; storm deposits; carbonate dune systems; paleogeography of Baja California (Mexico) and the macaronesian islands of the NE atlantic
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Facultad de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Ensenada 22800, Baja California, Mexico
Interests: coastal sedimentology; rocky-shore deposits; tectonics; island geology; Phanerozoic sea-level changes; coastal dune systems; paleogeography of Baja California (Mexico) and the Macaronesian islands of the NE Atlantic

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Dear Colleagues,

The study of hurricane deposits in the aftermath of landfall (Ball et al. on Florida’s Hurricane Donna in 1960) has been innovative in approach. Subsequent development of the mathematics behind megaclast hydrodynamics provides insight on the strength of pre-historic storms. Boulder deposits with or without organics (i.e., large coral heads) from the last few million years are newly open to quantification. Tidal forces, prevailing currents, and tsunamis must be taken into account, but regional geography aids in their potential elimination as contributing factors. The Holocene, Pleistocene, and Pliocene Warm Period are of particular interest. Storm deposits from these intervals provide a forecast for the near future under conditions of accelerated global warming at a rate previously unmatched.  Contributions on coastal boulder deposits are solicited, but also on outwash deposits due to excessive rainfall. Survey papers on risk zones for hurricane landfall as well as literature reviews on the extent of published material from the Late Neogene are welcome.

Prof. emer. Markes E. Johnson
Prof. emer. Jorge Ledesma-Vázquez
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Coastal boulder deposits (CBDs)
  • Coastal outwash deposits (CODs)
  • Hurricane dynamics
  • Wave surge modelling
  • Coastal geomorphology
  • Prediction of high-risk zones for hurricane landfall
  • Literature review on the geologic record

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 194 KiB  
Editorial
Evaluation of Boulder Deposits Linked to Late Neogene Hurricane Events
by Markes E. Johnson and Jorge Ledesma-Vázquez
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2021, 9(11), 1278; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse9111278 - 17 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1075
Abstract
The Neogene is a globally recognized interval of geologic time that lasted from 23 until 1 [...] Full article

Research

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22 pages, 31654 KiB  
Article
Upper Pleistocene and Holocene Storm Deposits Eroded from the Granodiorite Coast on Isla San Diego (Baja California Sur, Mexico)
by Ginni Callahan, Markes E. Johnson, Rigoberto Guardado-France and Jorge Ledesma-Vázquez
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2021, 9(5), 555; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse9050555 - 20 May 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2090
Abstract
This project examines the role of hurricane-strength events likely to have exceeded 119 km/h in wind speed that entered the Gulf of California from the open Pacific Ocean during Late Pleistocene and Holocene times to impact the granodiorite shoreline on Isla San Diego. [...] Read more.
This project examines the role of hurricane-strength events likely to have exceeded 119 km/h in wind speed that entered the Gulf of California from the open Pacific Ocean during Late Pleistocene and Holocene times to impact the granodiorite shoreline on Isla San Diego. Conglomerate dominated by large, ellipsoidal to subspherical boulders at the islands south end were canvassed at six stations. A total of 200 individual cobbles and boulders were systematically measured in three dimensions, providing the database for analyses of variations in clast shape and size. The project’s goal was to apply mathematical equations elaborated after Nott (2003) with subsequent refinements to estimate individual wave heights necessary to lift igneous blocks from the joint-bound and exfoliated coast on Isla San Diego. On average, wave heights on the order of 3 m are calculated as having impacted the Late Pleistocene rocky coastline on Isla San Diego during storms, although the largest boulders more than a meter in diameter are estimated to weigh two metric tons and would have required waves in excess of 10 m for extraction. Described for the first time, a fossil marine biota associated with the boulder beds confirms a littoral-to-very-shallow water setting correlated with Marine Isotope Substage 5e approximately 125,000 years ago. A narrow submarine ridge consisting, in part, of loose cobbles and boulders extends for 1.4 km to the southwest from the island’s tip, suggesting that Holocene storms continued to transport rock debris removed from the shore. The historical record of events registered on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale in the Gulf of California suggests that major storms with the same intensity struck the island in earlier times. Full article
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23 pages, 5251 KiB  
Article
Late Pleistocene Boulder Slumps Eroded from a Basalt Shoreline at El Confital Beach on Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain)
by Inés Galindo, Markes E. Johnson, Esther Martín-González, Carmen Romero, Juana Vegas, Carlos S. Melo, Sérgio P. Ávila and Nieves Sánchez
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2021, 9(2), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse9020138 - 29 Jan 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2465
Abstract
This study examines the role of North Atlantic storms degrading a Late Pleistocene rocky shoreline formed by basaltic rocks overlying hyaloclastite rocks on a small volcanic peninsula connected to Gran Canaria in the central region of the Canary Archipelago. A conglomerate dominated by [...] Read more.
This study examines the role of North Atlantic storms degrading a Late Pleistocene rocky shoreline formed by basaltic rocks overlying hyaloclastite rocks on a small volcanic peninsula connected to Gran Canaria in the central region of the Canary Archipelago. A conglomerate dominated by large, ellipsoidal to angular boulders eroded from an adjacent basalt flow was canvassed at six stations distributed along 800 m of the modern shore at El Confital, on the outskirts of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. A total of 166 individual basalt cobbles and boulders were systematically measured in three dimensions, providing the database for analyses of variations in clast shape and size. The goal of this study was to apply mathematical equations elaborated after Nott (2003) and subsequent refinements in order to estimate individual wave heights necessary to lift basalt blocks from the layered and joint-bound sea cliffs at El Confital. On average, wave heights in the order of 4.2 to 4.5 m are calculated as having impacted the Late Pleistocene rocky coastline at El Confital, although the largest boulders in excess of 2 m in diameter would have required larger waves for extraction. A review of the fossil marine biota associated with the boulder beds confirms a littoral to very shallow water setting correlated in time with Marine Isotope Stage 5e (Eemian Stage) approximately 125,000 years ago. The historical record of major storms in the regions of the Canary and Azorean islands indicates that events of hurricane strength were likely to have struck El Confital in earlier times. Due to its high scientific value, the outcrop area featured in this study is included in the Spanish Inventory of Geosites and must be properly protected and managed to ensure conservation against the impact of climate change foreseen in coming years. Full article
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18 pages, 12935 KiB  
Article
Holocene Boulder Beach Eroded from Chromite and Dunite Sea Cliffs at Støypet on Leka Island (Northern Norway)
by Markes E. Johnson
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2020, 8(9), 644; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse8090644 - 21 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2101
Abstract
This project examines the role of high-latitude storms degrading a Holocene coast formed by igneous rocks composed of low-grade chromite ore and dunite that originated within the Earth’s crust near the upper mantle. Such rocks are dense and rarely exposed at the surface [...] Read more.
This project examines the role of high-latitude storms degrading a Holocene coast formed by igneous rocks composed of low-grade chromite ore and dunite that originated within the Earth’s crust near the upper mantle. Such rocks are dense and rarely exposed at the surface by tectonic events in the reconfiguration of old ocean basins. An unconsolidated boulder beach occupies Støypet valley on Leka Island in northern Norway, formerly an open channel 10,000 years ago when glacial ice was in retreat and rebound of the land surface was about to commence. Sea cliffs exposing a stratiform ore body dissected by fractures was subject to wave erosion that shed large cobbles and small boulders into the channel. Competing mathematical equations are applied to estimate the height of storm waves impacting the channel floor and cliffs, and the results are compared with observations on wave heights generated by recent storms striking the Norwegian coast with the intensity of an orkan (Norwegian for hurricane). Lateral size variations in beach clasts suggest that Holocene storms struck Leka Island from the southwest with wave heights between 5 and 7.5 m based on the largest beach boulders. This result compares favorably with recent high-latitude storm tracks in the Norwegian Sea and their recorded wave heights. The density of low-grade chromite ore (3.32 g/cm3) sampled from the beach deposit exceeds that of rocks like limestone or other igneous rocks such as rhyolite, andesite, and basalt taken into consideration regarding coastal boulder deposits associated with classic hurricanes in more tropical settings. Full article
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24 pages, 14627 KiB  
Article
Multiphase Storm Deposits Eroded from Andesite Sea Cliffs on Isla San Luis Gonzaga (Northern Gulf of California, Mexico)
by Rigoberto Guardado-France, Markes E. Johnson, Jorge Ledesma-Vázquez, Miguel A. Santa Rosa-del Rio and Ángel R. Herrera-Gutiérrez
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2020, 8(7), 525; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse8070525 - 16 Jul 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2371
Abstract
The 450-m long spit that extends westward from the northwest corner of Isla San Luis Gonzaga is one of the largest and most complex constructions of unconsolidated cobbles and boulders found anywhere in Mexico’s Gulf of California. The material source derives from episodic [...] Read more.
The 450-m long spit that extends westward from the northwest corner of Isla San Luis Gonzaga is one of the largest and most complex constructions of unconsolidated cobbles and boulders found anywhere in Mexico’s Gulf of California. The material source derives from episodic but intense storm erosion along the island’s andesitic cliff face with steep northern exposures. A well-defined marine terrace from the late Pleistocene cuts across the same corner of the island and provides a marker for the subsequent development of the spit that post-dates tectonic-eustatic adjustments. A total of 660 individual andesite clasts from seven transects across the spit were measured for analyses of change in shape and size. These data are pertinent to the application of mathematical formulas elaborated after Nott (2003) and subsequent refinements to estimate individual wave heights necessary for lift from parent sea cliffs and subsequent traction. Although the ratio of boulders to clasts diminishes from the proximal to distal end of the structure, relatively large boulders populate all transects and the average wave height required for the release of joint-bound blocks at the rocky shore amounts to 5 m. Based on the region’s historical record of hurricanes, such storms tend to decrease in intensity as they migrate northward through the Gulf of California’s 1100-km length. However, the size and complexity of the San Luis Gonzaga spit suggests that a multitude of extreme storm events impacted the island in the upper gulf area through the Holocene time, yielding a possible average growth rate between 7 and 8 m/century over the last 10,000 years. In anticipation of future storms, a system to track the movement of sample boulders should be emplaced on the San Luis Gonzaga spit and similar localities with major coastal boulder deposits. Full article
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22 pages, 3920 KiB  
Article
Comparison of Modern and Pleistocene (MIS 5e) Coastal Boulder Deposits from Santa Maria Island (Azores Archipelago, NE Atlantic Ocean)
by Sérgio P. Ávila, Markes E. Johnson, Ana Cristina Rebelo, Lara Baptista and Carlos S. Melo
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2020, 8(6), 386; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse8060386 - 28 May 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2392
Abstract
Modern and palaeo-shores from Pleistocene Marine Isotope Substage 5e (MIS 5e) featuring prominent cobble/boulder deposits from three locations, on the southern and eastern coast of Santa Maria Island in the Azores Archipelago, were compared, in order to test the idea of higher storminess [...] Read more.
Modern and palaeo-shores from Pleistocene Marine Isotope Substage 5e (MIS 5e) featuring prominent cobble/boulder deposits from three locations, on the southern and eastern coast of Santa Maria Island in the Azores Archipelago, were compared, in order to test the idea of higher storminess during the Last Interglacial. A total of 175 basalt clasts from seven transects were measured manually in three dimensions perpendicular to one another. Boulders that exceeded the minimum definitional diameter of 25 cm contributed to 45% of the clasts, with the remainder falling into the category of large cobbles. These were sorted for variations in shape, size, and weight pertinent to the application of two mathematical formulas to estimate wave heights necessary for traction. Both equations were based on the “Nott-Approach”, one of them being sensitive to the longest axis, the other to the shortest axis. The preponderance of data derived from the Pleistocene deposits, which included an intertidal invertebrate fauna for accurate dating. The island’s east coast at Ponta do Cedro lacked a modern boulder beach due to steep rocky shores, whereas raised Pleistocene palaeo-shores along the same coast reflect surged from an average wave height of 5.6 m and 6.5 m. Direct comparison between modern and Pleistocene deposits at Ponta do Castelo to the southeast and Prainha on the island’s south shore produced contrasting results, with higher wave heights during MIS 5e at Ponta do Castelo and higher wave heights for the modern boulder beach at Prainha. Thus, our results did not yield a clear conclusion about higher storminess during the Last Interglacial compared to the present day. Historical meteorological records pit the seasonal activity of winter storms arriving from the WNW-NW against the scant record of hurricanes arriving from the ESE-SE. The disparity in the width of the marine shelf around Santa Maria Island with broad shelves to the north and narrow shelves to the south and east suggested that periodic winter storms had a more regular role in coastal erosion, whereas the rare episodic recurrence of hurricanes had a greater impact on southern and southeastern rocky shores, where the studied coastal boulder deposits were located. Full article
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20 pages, 7805 KiB  
Article
Finding Coastal Megaclast Deposits: A Virtual Perspective
by Dmitry A. Ruban
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2020, 8(3), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse8030164 - 3 Mar 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2671
Abstract
Coastal megaclast deposits are dominated by detrital particles larger than 1 m in size. These attract significant attention of modern researchers because of the needs of sedimentary rock nomenclature development and interpretation of storm and tsunami signatures on seashores. If so, finding localities [...] Read more.
Coastal megaclast deposits are dominated by detrital particles larger than 1 m in size. These attract significant attention of modern researchers because of the needs of sedimentary rock nomenclature development and interpretation of storm and tsunami signatures on seashores. If so, finding localities that exhibit coastal megaclast deposits is an important task. Field studies do not offer a quick solution, and, thus, remote sensing tools have to be addressed. The application of the Google Earth Engine has permitted to find four new localities, namely Hondarribia in northern Spain (Biscay Bay), the Ponza Island in Italy (Tyrrhenian Sea), the Wetar Island in eastern Indonesia (Banda Sea), and the Humboldt o Coredo Bay at the Colombia/Panama border (eastern Pacific). In these localities, coastal megaclast deposits consisting of blocks (1–10 m in size) and some megablocks (>10 m in size) are delineated and preliminary described in regard to the dominant size of particles, package density, mode of occurrence, etc. The limitations of such virtual surveys of coastal megaclast deposits are linked to an insufficiently high resolution of satellite images, as well as ‘masking’ effects of vegetation cover and cliff shadows. However, these limitations do not diminish the importance of the Google Earth Engine for finding these deposits. Consideration of some tourism-related information, including photos captured by tourists and bouldering catalogues, facilitates search for promising areas for subsequent virtual surveying of megaclast distribution. It is also established that the Google Earth Engine permits quantitative analysis of composition of coastal megaclast deposits in some areas, as well as to register decade-long dynamics or stability of these deposits, which is important to interpret their origin. The current opportunities for automatic detection of coastal megaclast deposits seem to be restricted. Full article
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24 pages, 4898 KiB  
Article
Holocene Hurricane Deposits Eroded as Coastal Barriers from Andesite Sea Cliffs at Puerto Escondido (Baja California Sur, Mexico)
by Markes E. Johnson, Erlend M. Johnson, Rigoberto Guardado-France and Jorge Ledesma-Vázquez
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2020, 8(2), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse8020075 - 24 Jan 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2541
Abstract
Previous studies on the role of hurricanes in Mexico’s Gulf of California examined coastal boulder deposits (CBDs) eroded from limestone and rhyolite sea cliffs. Sedimentary and volcanic in origin, these lithotypes are less extensively expressed as rocky shores than others in the overall [...] Read more.
Previous studies on the role of hurricanes in Mexico’s Gulf of California examined coastal boulder deposits (CBDs) eroded from limestone and rhyolite sea cliffs. Sedimentary and volcanic in origin, these lithotypes are less extensively expressed as rocky shores than others in the overall distribution of gulf shores. Andesite that accumulated as serial volcanic flows during the Miocene constitutes by far the region’s most pervasive rocky shores. Here, we define a subgroup of structures called barrier boulder deposits (BBDs) that close off lagoons as a result of lateral transport from adjacent rocky shores subject to recurrent storm erosion. Hidden Harbor (Puerto Escondido) is the most famous natural harbor in all of Baja California. Accessed from a single narrow entrance, it is commodious in size (2.3 km2) and fully sheltered by outer andesite hills linked by two natural barriers. The average weight of embedded boulders in a succession of six samples tallied over a combined distance of 710 m ranges between 74 and 197 kg calculated on the basis of boulder volume and the specific gravity of andesite. A mathematical formula is utilized to estimate the wave height necessary to transport large boulders from their source. Average wave height interpreted by this method varies between 4.1 and 4.6 m. Input from fossil deposits and physical geology related to fault trends is applied to reconstruct coastal evolution from a more open coastal scenario during the Late Pleistocene 125,000 years ago to lagoon closure in Holocene time. Full article
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12 pages, 814 KiB  
Article
Coastal Boulder Deposits of the Neogene World: A Synopsis
by Dmitry A. Ruban
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2019, 7(12), 446; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse7120446 - 5 Dec 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2226
Abstract
Modern geoscience research pays significant attention to Quaternary coastal boulder deposits, although the evidence from the earlier geologic periods can be of great importance. The undertaken compilation of the literature permits to indicate 21 articles devoted to such deposits of Neogene age. These [...] Read more.
Modern geoscience research pays significant attention to Quaternary coastal boulder deposits, although the evidence from the earlier geologic periods can be of great importance. The undertaken compilation of the literature permits to indicate 21 articles devoted to such deposits of Neogene age. These are chiefly case studies. Such an insufficiency of investigations may be linked to poor preservation potential of coastal boulder deposits and methodological difficulties. Equal attention has been paid by geoscientists to Miocene and Pliocene deposits. Taking into account the much shorter duration of the Pliocene, an overemphasis of boulders of this age becomes evident. Hypothetically, this can be explained by more favorable conditions for boulder formation, including a larger number of hurricanes due to the Pliocene warming. Geographically, the studies of the Neogene coastal boulder deposits have been undertaken in different parts of the world, but generally in those locations where rocky shores occur nowadays. The relevance of these deposits to storms and tsunamis, rocky shores and deltas, gravity processes, and volcanism has been discussed; however, some other mechanisms of boulder production, transportation, and accumulation (e.g., linked to seismicity and weathering) have been missed. Full article
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