The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the arm of the San Francisco Bay estuary that reaches into the Central Valley of California, differs from typical coastal-plain deltas in three important respects. First, rather than meeting the ocean individually and directly, all major waterways of this delta discharge via a single constricted outlet into a chain of estuarine bays and straits. Second, in the most common vertical sequence of deposits, peat and mud deposited in tidal marshes and swamps (tidal wetlands) directly overlie alluvium or eolian sand, a sequence recording a landward spread of tidal environments rather than the seaward migration of fluvial environments that is typical of coastal-plain deltas (Cosby, 1941, p. 43; Thompson, 1957, p. 12; Shlemon and Begg, 1975, p. 259; Atwater and Belknap, 1980). Finally, intensive human use has led to a peculiar set of conflicts involving rights to water and responsibilities for flood-control levees (Kockelman and other, 1982).
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