Deposition of a washover fan can take some time

I used to think that washover fans were all event deposits.  A major storm, such as a hurricane, impacts a barrier island, causes overwash, transports sand across the island, and deposits a washover fan.  After the storm passes, vegetation colonizes the washover, traps wind-blown sand, and builds island elevation and resistance to further overwash.  While that general model is certainly applicable to many washover fans, others take time to form.  We recently published a paper in Scientific Reports “Long-term washover fan accretion on a transgressive barrier island challenges the assumption that paleotempestites represent individual tropical cyclones” that tracks washover deposition over a 3-year period.  The study shows that washover deposits can accrete landward over multi-year time scales in the absence of large storms.  Monitoring began in 2011 and above is a recent image of the site taken in 2020 (false color).  Overwash is still an active process nearly 10 years after washover deposition initiated.  Currently, sand is being deposited in the intracoastal waterway.

About Antonio Rodriguez

Institute of Marine Sciences
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