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The James River estuary of the Chesapeake Bay region follows the course of a former river valley drowned within the last 9,000 years by the most recent rise of sea level. The floor is shaped into a central channel bordered by submerged shoals. Observations show suspended sediment is transported mainly by alternating tidal currents and secondarily by the net nontidal estuarine circulation. Transport results in a sequence of grain size distributions reflecting the mixing of two textural end members, clay and sand.

Silty clay is deposited in the river and upper estuary, whereas sand occurs near the mouth. Transitional types,...

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