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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Houston Geological Society


Deltas in Their Geologic Framework, 1966
Pages 99-105

Historical Deltation of the Colorado River, Texas

A. H. Wadsworth Jr.


The modern delta of the Colorado River is unique among Gulf Coastal Plain deltas in the remarkable speed with which it was deposited. Rapid deltation was caused by the removal of a log jam, or raft, that choked the river from its mouth to a point 46 miles upstream. The earliest recorded survey of the delta was made in 1908 when it encompassed about 45 acres. Removal of the raft began in 1925, and by 1929 a pilot channel was completed through the floating logs. Later that year a flood swept much of the raft materials and the impounded sediments into Matagorda Bay. Rapid deltaic growth resulted, and by 1930 the delta covered 1,780 acres. By 1936 the delta had extended itself across the bay to Matagorda Peninsula. In 1941 the delta attained an area of 7,098 acres. This was an increase in area of 160 times in just 33 years.

Earlier river channels of the Colorado River are known. One flowed into Matagorda Bay in the vicinity of Tres Palacios Creek. The other flowed, together with the Brazos River, into a large bay that occupied eastern Matagorda and western Brazoria Counties, Texas. Extensive deposition by these two rivers filled this bay, after which a delta was built into the Gulf of Mexico in the vicinity of Freeport. Any barrier beaches that, may have existed in front of the bay were buried by deltaic sediments.

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