Skip to main content

Reconstruction of Prehistoric Landfall Frequencies of Catastrophic Hurricanes in Northwestern Florida from Lake Sediment Records

  • Kam-biu Liu (a1) and Miriam L. Fearn (a2)

Sediment cores from Western Lake provide a 7000-yr record of coastal environmental changes and catastrophic hurricane landfalls along the Gulf Coast of the Florida Panhandle. Using Hurricane Opal as a modern analog, we infer that overwash sand layers occurring near the center of the lake were caused by catastrophic hurricanes of category 4 or 5 intensity. Few catastrophic hurricanes struck the Western Lake area during two quiescent periods 3400–5000 and 0–1000 14C yr B.P. The landfall probabilities increased dramatically to ca. 0.5% per yr during an “hyperactive” period from 1000–3400 14C yr B.P., especially in the first millennium A.D. The millennial-scale variability in catastrophic hurricane landfalls along the Gulf Coast is probably controlled by shifts in the position of the jet stream and the Bermuda High.

Hide All
Blum, M.D., Toomey, R.S. III, Valastro, S. Jr. (1994). Fluvial response to Late Quaternary climatic and environmental change, Edwards Plateau, Texas. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 108, 121.
Curray, J.R.. Late Quaternary history, continental shelves of the United States. Wright, H.E. Jr., and Frey, D.C. (1965). The Quaternary of the United States. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton.723735.
Dean, W.E., Ahlbrant, T.S., Anderson, R.Y., Bradbury, J.P.(1996). Regional aridity in North America during the middle Holocene. The Holocene, 6, 145155.
Dean, W.G. (1974). Determination of carbonate and organic matter in calcareous sediments and sedimentary rocks by loss on ignition: Comparison with other methods. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 44, 242248.
Donoghue, J.F., Tanner, W.F.. Quaternary terraces and shorelines of the panhandle Florida region. Wehmiller, J.F., Fletcher, C.H.(1992). Quaternary Coasts of the United States: Marine and Lacustrine Systems. Society for Sedimentary Geology, Tulsa.233241.
Dwyer, T.R., Mullins, H.T., Good, S.C.(1996). Paleoclimatic implications of Holocene lake-level fluctuations, Owasco Lake, New York. Geology, 24, 519522.
Elsner, J.B., Kara, A.B.(1999). Hurricanes of the North Atlantic. Oxford Univ. Press, New York.
Forman, S.L., Oglesby, R., Markgraf, V., Stafford, T.(1995). Paleoclimatic significance of Late Quaternary eolian deposition on the Piedmont and High Plains, Central United States. Global and Planetary Change, 11, 3555.
Gray, W.M. (1990). Strong association between West African rainfall and U.S. landfall of intense hurricanes. Science, 249, 12511256.
Hall, S.A. (1990). Channel trenching and climatic change in the southern U.S. Great Plains. Geology, 18, 342345.
Hargraves, P.E., Miller, B.T.(1974). The Ebridian flagellate Hermesinum adriaticum Zach. Arch. Protistenk, 116, 280284.
Hodell, D.A., Curtis, J.H., Jones, G.A., Higuera-Gundy, A., Brenner, M., Binford, M.W., Dorsey, K.T.(1991). Reconstruction of Caribbean climate change over the past 10,500 years. Nature, 353, 790793.
Knox, J.C. (1993). Large increases in flood magnitude in response to modest changes in climate. Nature, 361, 430432.
Landsea, C.W., Nicholls, N., Gray, W.M., Avila, L.A.(1996). Downward trends in the frequency of intense Atlantic hurricanes during the past five decades. Geophysical Research Letters, 23, 16971700.
Leigh, D.S., Feeney, T.P.(1995). Paleochannels indicating wet climate and lack of response to lower sea level, southeast Georgia. Geology, 23, 687690.
Liu, K-b. (1990). Holocene paleoecology of the boreal forest and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest in northern Ontario. Ecological Monographs, 60, 179212.
Liu, K-b.. Paleotempestology: Reconstruction of past hurricane landfalls from sedimentary proxy records.(2000). Science in an Uncertain Millennium: 2000 AAAS Annual Meeting and Science Innovation Exposition. American Association for the Advancement of Science,
Liu, K-b., Fearn, M.L.(1993). Lake-sediment record of late Holocene hurricane activities from coastal Alabama. Geology, 21, 793796.
Liu, K-b., Fearn, M.L.. Holocene history of catastrophic hurricane landfalls along the Gulf of Mexico coast reconstructed from coastal lake and marsh sediments. Ning, Z.H., Abdollahi, K.K.(2000). Current Stresses and Potential Vulnerabilities: Implications of Global Change for the Gulf Coast Region of the United States. Gulf Coast Regional Climate Change CouncilFranklin Press, Baton Rouge.3847.
Ludlam, D.M. (1963). Early American Hurricanes, 1492–1870. American Meteorological Society, Boston.
Madole, R.F. (1994). Stratigraphic evidence of desertification in the west-central Great Plains within the past 1000 yr. Geology, 22, 483486.
Michaels, A., Malmquist, D., Knap, A., Close, A.(1997). Climate science and insurance risk. Nature, 389, 225227.
Morton, R.A. (1976). Effects of Hurricane Eloise on beach and coastal structures, Florida Panhandle. Geology, 4, 277280.
Nelson, H.F., Bray, E.E.. Stratigraphy and history of the Holocene sediments in the Sabine–High Island area, Gulf of Mexico. Morgan, J.P.(1970). Deltaic Sedimentation, Modern and Ancient.4877.
Neumann, C. J., Jarvinen, B. R., Pike, A. C.(1987). Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean 1871–1986. National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC.
Overpeck, J.T. (1996). Warm climate surprises. Science, 271, 18201821.
Patten, P.C., Dibble, D.S.(1982). Archeologic and geomorphic evidence for the paleohydrologic record of the Pecos River in west Texas. American Journal of Science, 282, 97121.
Penland, S., Suter, J.R., McBride, R.A.. Delta plain development and sea level history in the Terrebonne coastal region, Louisiana.(1987). Coastal Sediments '87. American Society of Civil Engineers, p. 1689–1705
Pielke, R.A. Jr., Pielke, R.A. Sr.(1997). Hurricanes: Their Nature and Impacts on Society. Wiley, Chichester.
Pirazzoli, P.A. (1991). World Atlas of Holocene Sea Level Changes. Elsevier Oceanography Series, Amsterdam.
Stapor, F.W. Jr.(1975). Holocene beach ridge development, northwest Florida. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, Suppl., 22, 116144.
Tanner, W.F. (1992). Late Holocene sea-level changes from grain-size data: Evidence from the Gulf of Mexico. The Holocene, 2, 249254.
Toomey, R.S. III, Blum, M.D., Valastro, S. Jr.(1993). Late Quaternary climates and environments of the Edwards Plateau, Texas. Global and Planetary Change, 7, 299320.
Van de Plassche, O., van der Borg, K., de Jong, A.F.M.(1998). Sea level-climate correlation during the past 1400 yr. Geology, 26, 319322.
Wanless, H. R., Parkinson, R. W.(1989). Late Holocene sealevel history of southern Florida: control on coastal stability. InCoastal Sediment Mobility, Proceedings of the Eighth Symposium on Coastal Sedimentology(Tanner, W. F. Ed.), pp. 197214.Geology Department, Florida State University, Tallahassee.
T. III, Webb,Bartlein, P. J., Kutzbach, J. E.(1987). Climatic change in eastern North America during the past 18,000 years; Comparisons of pollen data with model results. InNorth America and Adjacent Oceans during the Last Deglaciation(Ruddiman, W. F., Wright, H. E.Jr., Eds.),Vol., K-3, The Geology of North America, pp. 447462.Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed