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Over 400 km of high-resolution seismic data and 53 sediment cores up to 30 m in length were collected from Corpus Christi Bay along the central Texas coast in order to study the impact of sea-level and climate change on coastal environments over the last 10 k.y. Although coastal environments experienced a general landward migration as relative sea level rose over the last 10 k.y., this retreat was punctuated by three, possibly four, major flooding events. These flooding events are marked by abrupt changes in lithologic and seismic facies interpreted to represent rapid landward shifts of bay environments. Such changes include the back stepping of bayhead deltas, tidal deltas, oyster reefs, and other bay environments. Flooding events occurred at 8.0, 4.8, 2.6 ka, and possibly at 9.6 ka, and lasted only a few hundred years. The 9.6 ka flooding surface represents the initial drowning of the ancestral Nueces River valley and may or may not have been rapid in nature. The flooding surface that formed around 8.0 ka is interpreted to record either an increase in the rate of relative sea-level rise or the flooding of relict fluvial terraces that formed by the Nueces River during the stepped fall in sea level since marine isotope stage (MIS) 5e (120 ka). The 4.8 ka flooding event is thought to have formed as a result of either a climatic change during the mid-Holocene, characterized by warmer and drier conditions compared to present, and/or the flooding of another fluvial terrace. The most recent flooding event (2.6 ka) is thought to have resulted from a decrease in sediment delivery to the bay associated with a return to more mesic conditions similar to those of the present climatic regime.

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