Jackson, K.; Wang, P.; Pluckhahn, T.J.; Rogers, J.A., and Thompson, V.D., 2023. Stratigraphic framework, paleoenvironments, and Indigenous terraforming of inshore estuarine subbasins in Tampa Bay, Florida, U.S.A. Journal of Coastal Research, 39(5), 779–815. Charlotte (North Carolina), ISSN 0749-0208.
Tampa Bay is a karst-controlled estuary system on Florida’s central peninsular Gulf of Mexico coast. Although previous work has reconstructed late-Pleistocene environments (ca. 20–11.5 kya) and early marine influence (ca. 8–5.5 kya) in deeper central portions of the bay, the estuarine development of the shallow inshore subbasins remains poorly understood. Across the late Holocene, Indigenous societies terraformed the coastal strand with large volumes of estuarine mollusk shell, and these anthropogenic landforms constitute coastal barriers that partially enclose marginal tidal bayous. This study integrates sediment coring and archaeological excavations to reconstruct the Holocene estuarine evolution of four inshore subbasins within Tampa Bay. This study synthesizes sedimentological, macrofossil, and archaeological data to describe and differentiate seven sedimentary facies and 18 subfacies representing weathered Miocene limestone at the base, overlain by late-Pleistocene freshwater wetland deposits, followed by Holocene estuarine sediments and late-Holocene shell-terraformed settlements. Four stratigraphic cross-sections and >100 radiocarbon assays are utilized to interpret the sequences of inshore estuary development, situate ancient shell-bearing Native settlements within a geologic and paleoenvironmental framework, and resolve elements of mid- and late-Holocene sea-level history.