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Journal of Coastal Research

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Coastal erosion -- Effect of global warming on, Coastal archaeology -- California -- San Miguel Island, Eolian processes


Coastal eolian sand ramps (5–130 m elevation) on the northern slope (windward) side of the small San Miguel Island (13 km in W-E length) range in age from late Pleistocene to modern time, though a major hiatus in sand-ramp growth occurred during the early Holocene marine transgression (16–9 ka). The Holocene sand ramps (1–5 m measured thicknesses) currently lack large dune forms, thereby representing deflated erosional remnants, locally covering thicker late Pleistocene sand-ramp deposits. The ramp sand was initially supplied from the adjacent island-shelf platform, extending about 20 km north of the present coastline. The sand-ramp deposits and interbedded loess soils were 14C dated using 112 samples from 32 archaeological sites and other geologic sections. Latest Pleistocene sand ramps (66–18 ka) were derived from across-shelf eolian sand transport during marine low stands. Shoreward wave transport supplied remobilized late Pleistocene sand from the inner shelf to Holocene beaches, where dominant NW winds supplied sand to the sand ramps. The onset dates of the sand-ramp deposition in San Miguel are 7.2 ± 1.5 ka (sample n = 14). The internal strata dates in the vertically accreting sand ramps are 3.4 ± 1.7 ka (n = 34). The sand ramps in San Miguel show wide-scale termination of sand supply in the latest Holocene time. The sand-ramp top dates or burial dates are 1.7 ± 0.9 ka (n = 28). The latest Holocene sand ramps are truncated along most of the island's northern coastline, indicating recent losses of nearshore sand reserves to onshore, alongshore, and, possibly, offshore sand sinks. The truncated sand ramps in San Miguel Island and in other sand-depleted marine coastlines provide warnings about future beach erosion and/or shoreline retreat from accelerated sea-level rise accompanying predicted global warming.


To the best of our knowledge, this work was authored as part of the Contributor's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105.

Published 2017 by the Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc.



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