GEOMORPHOLOGICAL RESPONSE TO LATE HOLOCENE SEA-LEVEL RISE IN COASTAL SOUTHWEST FLORIDA
Extensive vermetiform gastropod and oyster reef development began approximately 2700 ybp during intervals where SLR rates ranged between 5-10 cm / 100 y. These reefs typically exhibit a paleoenvironmental and faunal succession indicative of SLR and a progressive development of estuarine conditions. Oyster accretion rates are slightly higher than vermetiform gastropods with the former less than 18 cm and the latter less than 12 cm / 100 y. An earlier, but failed interval of reef development occurred between 4500-5500 ybp during times of SLR that exceeded rates of 15 cm / 100 y, suggesting that this is close to the rate required to sustain reef growth. Although recent reef degradation is not obvious, there are a number of indicators of geomorphic change. First, the estuarine region of greatest oyster productivity has moved up into the lower rivers. Second, the inner margins of the inner bays are stepping landward, despite their persistence for the previous 3000 years. Third, intertidal wetlands and tidal ponds are consuming brackish and freshwater grass prairies, indicating that the brackish water ecotone is transgressing within the coastal mangrove forests.