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Surface sampling and bathymetric surveying in 1981 and charts from 1853 to 1934 are used to formulate the history of Quatre Bayou Pass, a major inlet within the transgressive environment of the Mississippi River deltaic plain. Over this period, land loss processes caused marsh to give way to lakes and bays; therefore, tidal exchange intensified through a break in the coastal barrier. Beach sand was reworked into small tidal deltas. As lakes and bays enlarged further, the tidal prism increased; consequently, both the pass and the sandy tidal deltas increased in size. Over the last century, the increased tidal flow caused Quatre Bayou Pass to have an eight-fold cross-sectional area enlargement and a three-fold ebb-tidal delta volume increase. At present, the throat is 15 m 49 ft) deep and 1.2 km (0.7 mi) wide, while the ebb-tidal delta is comprised of 14.9 by 106 ± 10% m3 of sediment.
Concurrent with these developments, recession of the barrier and much of the shoreface proceeded at a rapid rate. Because the ebb-tidal delta had a simultaneous increase in volume, the shoreface in front of the pass remained relatively stable. In other words, bathymetric expression of
the ebb-tidal delta did not develop solely through progradation, but was also formed through erosion of the surrounding Gulf bottom. Accordingly, the shoal is termed "ebb-tidal delta retreat body."
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