Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean & Earth Sciences



Committee Director

George Oertel

Committee Member

Thomas Allen

Committee Member

Donald J. P. Swift

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.O35 O94 2001


Sea level has been rising at a variable rate since the end of the last glaciation approximately 18,000 years ago. As the transgressing sea inundates the shore areas a series of landform state changes occur in coastal regions. One such change of state in a coastal paleo-river channel is from an estuary into a coastal lagoon. At large temporal intervals (thousands of years) the hypsometry of a coastal lagoon varies as a result of sea level rise due to these changes of state. Using a morphostatic technique, the time period in which an estuary transforms into a coastal lagoon can be determined from a series of hypsometric curves created for a basin over large temporal intervals. This time period can be verified using an analysis of the associated hypsometric integral for each curve, as well as using an analysis of the potential marsh surface area available for colonization and the intertidal surface area. Using this type of analysis, Hog Island Bay, Virginia is determined to have transformed into a coastal lagoon between 4000 and 3000 years before present (ybp). The results of this project advance the spatial analysis and morphostatic analysis methodologies for coastal research, and shed light on the transformation structures of coastal basins undergoing sea-level rise.


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