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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 72 (1988)

Issue: 4. (April)

First Page: 439

Last Page: 453

Title: Facies Development of Atchafalaya Delta, Louisiana: A Modern Bayhead Delta

Author(s): Ivor Ll. Van Heerden (2), Harry H. Roberts (3)


Early studies of Atchafalaya delta focused on large-scale characteristics of accretion in Atchafalaya Bay. This study concentrates on sedimentation processes and stratigraphic as well as plan-view facies development in a rapidly prograding bayhead delta.

Since initiation of subaqueous delta growth (early 1950s), the bay has become shallower with accumulation of progressively coarser grained sediment. Stratigraphic relationships indicate a buildup from the pre-1950 bay bottom through prodelta, distal bar, distributary-mouth bar, levee, back-bar algal flat, and channel-fill deposits.

At the present stage of delta development, two distinct processes of subaerial growth are recognizable. Initial growth relates to channel extension, bifurcation, and development of sinuous overbank channels. A later, more mature response of lobe fusion and upstream lobe growth becomes dominant as progradation through bifurcation diminishes in older areas of the delta.

Atchafalaya delta growth to 1982 serves as a well-documented sedimentary example for understanding bayhead deltas, which commonly form in protected environments.

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