Phases of blowout initiation and stabilization on Padre Island revealed through ground-penetrating radar and remotely sensed imagery

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Physical Geography

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aeolian, Blowout, coastal, foredune, ground-penetrating radar


Blowouts cover a large section of North Padre Island, Texas, and have previously been associated with overgrazing and vehicles driving between the low water line and the toe of the foredune. In the current study, the evolution and migration of 18 blowouts within Padre Island National Seashore are tracked using aerial photographs and satellite images since 1969. Representative active and stabilized trough blowouts are also examined using ground-penetrating radar surveys and remotely sensed imagery to identify the phases of blowout initiation and stabilization between 1969 and 2010. At least five distinct phases can be identified in the radar surfaces and facies of the active blowout, including both the stabilization and reactivation of the blowout throat, whereas only four phases can be identified in the surfaces and facies of a blowout that completely stabilized in 2010. Results suggest that blowout evolution on Padre Island is episodic and is initiated by the opening and closing of the blowout throat during periods with elevated storm surge. The lack of reflectors at depth is evidence that the development of blowouts on Padre Island is a relatively new phenomenon initiated by overgrazing and maintained by compaction of the beach and backshore by vehicles. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group