Holocene vegetation and climate evolution of Corpus Christi and Trinity bays: Implications on coastal Texas source-to-sink deposition
- Author(s): Ferguson, S;
- Warny, S;
- Anderson, JB;
- Simms, AR;
- Escarguel, G
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.geobios.2018.02.007
The Texas coastline stretches 595 km across almost 4° of latitude and is home to diverse coastal vegetation assemblages, yet only a handful of studies have documented the climate and vegetative change of this region through the Holocene. We provide a detailed palynological record of Holocene climate for coastal Texas, based upon three subaqueous sediment cores from Corpus Christi Bay and Trinity Bay. Cluster analysis and correspondence analysis were used to investigate changes in palynological assemblages through time within each core. Common to both bays are nonarboreal taxa including Asteraceae (mainly Ambrosia and Helianthus), Chenopodium, Poaceae, and arboreal taxa such as Carya, Pinus, and Quercus. Our record shows that the coastal environments of central Texas began a transition from herbaceous (nonarboreal) dominated vegetation to arboreal vegetation as early as 8.4 ka within Corpus Christi Bay, and 3.8 ka within Trinity Bay. We note flooding events at 8.2, 5.4, and 3.6 ka in Corpus Christi Bay, and at 1.7, 1.2, and 0.8 ka in Trinity Bay. These events were caused by storms, sea level changes including flooding of relict river terraces, and changes in sediment delivery to the bays. The pollen record also shows evidence for changes in fluvial discharge to Corpus Christi Bay at 4.1 and 2.2 ka, and at 1.8 ka in Trinity Bay. We also see Zea mays in Trinity Bay, indicating local Native American agriculture. We observe no significant changes during the middle Holocene Climatic Optimum, and subtle but not statistically significant evidence of more variable climate oscillations than other records from more interior sites in Texas available for the late Holocene. This indicates that coastal Texas’ climate has operated semi-independently from central Texas regions, and was primarily driven by a coast-wise gradient of precipitation and evapotranspiration.