A decadally-resolved paleohurricane record archived in the late Holocene sediments of a Florida sinkhole

Thumbnail Image
Lane, D. Philip
Donnelly, Jeffrey P.
Woodruff, Jonathan D.
Hawkes, Andrea D.
Alternative Title
Date Created
Related Materials
Replaced By
Tropical cyclone
Storm surge
Gulf of Mexico
Apalachee Bay
A 4500-year record of hurricane-induced storm surges is developed from sediment cores collected from a coastal sinkhole near Apalachee Bay, Florida. Recent deposition of sand layers in the upper sediments of the pond was found to be contemporaneous with significant, historic storm surges at the site modeled using SLOSH and the Best Track, post-1851 A.D. dataset. Using the historic portion of the record for calibration, paleohurricane deposits were identified by sand content and dated using radiocarbon-based age models. Marine-indicative foraminifera, some originating at least 5 km offshore, were present in several modern and ancient storm deposits. The presence and long-term preservation of offshore foraminifera suggest that this site and others like it may yield promising microfossil-based paleohurricane reconstructions in the future. Due to the sub-decadal (~ 7 year) resolution of the record and the site’s high susceptibility to hurricane-generated storm surges, the average, local frequency of recorded events, approximately 3.9 storms per century, is greater than that of previously published paleohurricane records from the region. The high incidence of recorded events permitted a time series of local hurricane frequency during the last five millennia to be constructed. Variability in the frequency of the largest storm layers was found to be greater than what would likely occur by chance alone, with intervals of both anomalously high and low storm frequency identified. However, the rate at which smaller layers were deposited was relatively constant over the last five millennia. This may suggest that significant variability in hurricane frequency has occurred only in the highest magnitude events. The frequency of high magnitude events peaked near 6 storms per century between 2800 and 2300 years ago. High magnitude events were relatively rare with about 0-3 storms per century occurring between 1900 to 1600 years ago and between 400 to 150 years ago. A marked decline in the number of large storm deposits, which began around 600 years ago, has persisted through present with below average frequency over the last 150 years when compared to the preceding five millennia.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier B.V. for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Marine Geology 287 (2011): 14-30, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2011.07.001.
Embargo Date
Cruise ID
Cruise DOI
Vessel Name