Foraminiferal and sedimentary data, supplemented with geochemical dating and ground-penetrating radar transects, show that the barrier island at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge just north of Rodanthe, North Carolina, has been dominated by a combination of inlet and overwash processes for at least 1000 years. The stratigraphic record of several vibracores does not preserve every, or even many, overwash events but, instead, is characterized by three to four fining-upward sequences. The last three commence with overwash sand or gravel that is overlain by a variety of finer-grained estuarine, inlet, and marsh deposits. The dynamic nature of this segment of the Outer Banks was muted in the late 1930s by construction of artificial barrier dune ridges, extensive planting of grass and shrubs, and construction of Highway 12 in 1953. Subsequently, the road and barrier dune ridge were rebuilt and relocated several times following storm events.

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