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Sea-Level Change in the Gulf of Mexico

Richard A. Davis Jr.

Publication Year: 2011

A must-read for Gulf Coast scientists, naturalists, and residents . . .   From Florida to Mexico and along the shores of Cuba, the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico are vulnerable to sea-level rise because of their fragile and low-lying shorelines and adjacent coastal environments. In addition to wetlands, river deltas, beaches, and barrier islands, millions of people who live and work along the Gulf coast are susceptible to the affects of both intense storms in the short term and a gradual rise in sea level over the longer term.     While global warming headlines any current discussion of this topic and is certainly a major factor in sea-level change, it is not the only factor. Earthquakes and other crustal shifts, the El Niño/La Niña phenomena, river impoundment and sedimentation, tides, and weather can all affect local, regional, and global sea levels.   In Sea-Level Change in the Gulf of Mexico, Richard A. Davis Jr. looks at the various causes and effects of rising and falling sea levels in the Gulf of Mexico, beginning with the Gulf’s geological birth over 100 million years ago, and focusing on the last 20,000 years, when global sea levels began rising as the glaciers of the last major ice age melted. Davis reviews the current situation, especially regarding beach erosion and loss of wetlands, and offers a preview of the future, when the Gulf Coast will change markedly as the twenty-first century progresses.   Amply illustrated and written in a clear, straightforward style, Sea-Level Change in the Gulf of Mexico is a valuable resource for anyone who cares deeply about understanding the past, present, and future of life along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.  

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies Series, Sponsored by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi


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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

People in the early civilizations recognized that sea level has changed over time. Stories in ancient Greek and Hebrew described great floods of the sea. The presence of fossils and huge boulders well above present sea level were used as evidence. Much later, in the seventeenth century, Neptunism was prevalent among scientists. This theory held that there was a major ...

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Chapter 1--Causes and Rates of Sea- Level Change

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pp. 1-16

Changes in sea level can occur locally along as little as hundreds of meters of coastline, regionally across hundreds or thousands of kilometers, or globally; all may be important. Global sea- level change is generally referred to as eustatic change. It is eustatic or global sea level that the world’s population is concerned with at the present time. The rates of change in ...

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Chapter 2--Sea-Level Changes in the Early Historyof the Gulf of Mexico

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pp. 17-38

The Gulf of Mexico is relatively young in the history of the earth, yet it is still more than 150 million years old. Its origin is associated with plate tectonics as crustal plates moved thousands of kilometers. At times during its development, sea level in the Gulf of Mexico has been very high as well as low compared to the present. The history of this basin exhibits a lot ...

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Chapter 3--Sea-Level Changes During Glacial Times

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pp. 39-64

Glaciers are large masses of moving ice. They can be small such as those in the mountain valleys in the Alps and Alaska or they can be very wide-spread such as those covering most of Greenland and Antarctica. These very large glaciers are know as ice sheets, It is these ice sheets that have the potential to change sea level as they grow and melt. The East...

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Chapter 4--Melting Ice Sheets and Sea-Level Rise

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pp. 65-102

The maximum glaciation of the late Wisconsinan stage of the Pleistocene Epoch occurred about 20,000–22,000 years ago. As these ice sheets melted, sea level in the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the world began to rise from a low of about - 130 m relative to its present position (Fig. 4-1). The rate and direction of sea- level change from initiation of the rise 18,000 years ago ...

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Chapter 5--What Is Happening Now?

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pp. 103-138

The previous chapter concentrated on the development of coastal morphology and environments as sea level rose after the ice sheets began to melt. This rise in sea level began about 18,000–20,000 years ago. This chapter will deal with the present situation along the Gulf Coast. Here the “present” is defined as that period from the beginning of historical time up until ...

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Chapter 6--What Is Next?

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pp. 139-168

This chapter deals with the future. Three aspects of what will take place along the Gulf of Mexico coast must be considered. This discussion will be aimed at the turn of the next century, the typical time frame for most of the published predictions. First and foremost, what will be the position of sea level at the year 2100? Then, what is the impact of that sea- level ...


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pp. 169-172

E-ISBN-13: 9781603444859
E-ISBN-10: 1603444858
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603442244
Print-ISBN-10: 1603442243

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 65 color photos. 48 maps. 39 figs. 3 tables. Index.
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies Series, Sponsored by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi