Subaqueous Sediment Instabilities in the Offshore Mississippi River Delta
J. M. Coleman, D. B. Prior, 1981. "Subaqueous Sediment Instabilities in the Offshore Mississippi River Delta", Offshore Geologic Hazards: A Short Course Presented at Rice University, May 2-3, 1981 for the Offshore Technology Conference, Arnold Bouma, Dwight Sangrey, James Coleman, David Prior, Anita Trippet, Wayne Dunlap, James Hooper
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The Mississippi River delta has stimulated a wide variety of geological, hydrological, and geomorphological research. In the 1950s, offshore exploration began actively in the shallow-water areas off the delta, and data from soil foundation borings and hydrographic surveys were utilized to develop the first regional assessment of the geological setting (Fisk et al., 1954; Fisk and McClelland, 1959; Shepard, 1955). In the 1960s, research scientists of the Coastal Studies Institute, Louisiana State University, began conducting systematic research studies of the hydrodynamic aspects of the lower delta, sedimentation processes and patterns, and the geologic framework (Morgan, 1961; Morgan et al., 1963; Coleman and Gagliano, 1964; Coleman and Wright, 1975; Wright and Coleman, 1974). In 1969, during Hurricane Camille, two offshore platforms were destroyed and one was severely damaged by submarine landslides (Sterling and Strohbeck, 1973; Bea et al., 1975). After this hurricane, a considerable amount of research on the offshore region of the Mississippi Delta was initiated by the petroleum industry, consulting firms, governmental agencies, and universities.
In 1974, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Corpus Christi, Texas; the Coastal Studies Institute, Louisiana State University (LSU); and Texas A and M University began a series of cooperative research projects in the Outer Continental Shelf off the delta to a) establish the regional geologic framework of the delta, b) map the distribution and describe the variety of types of subaqueous instabilities, c) characterize the soil properties and their behavior under various stresses, and d) determine the mechanisms responsible for the subaqueous sediment failures.
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Offshore Geologic Hazards: A Short Course Presented at Rice University, May 2-3, 1981 for the Offshore Technology Conference
Practically all parts of the United States continental shelves and some segments of the adjacent upper continental slopes are presently subject, or will be in the near future, to exploration and development. The same is true for many continental margins all over the world. Unless the potential influence of hazards is taken into account in the design, installation, and operation of any offshore structure, such structures can pose a threat that could result in pollution, damage, or loss of lives and equipment. This publication, written to accompany an AAPG Short Course, provides some kind of summary of current [at the time of writing] knowledge. Higher categories of geologic hazards as well as individual potentially hazardous geologic phenomena are described and discussed.