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In regions characterized by considerable tectonic activity such as coastal Santa Barbara County, down-faulted and down-folded geologic structures may support estuaries of moderate size (200-300 ac). The South Coast region of this county occurs along the south side of the Santa Ynez Mountains and includes uplifted coastal mesas and foothills and down-faulted basins, such as the one containing Goleta Slough ( Fig. VI-7.) in the Goleta Valley, or down-folded (synclinal) basins such as the one containing Carpinteria Salt Marsh in the Carpinteria Valley (Ferren 1985; Ferren 1990).
These structural basins have steep but short watersheds rising to approximately 1130 m (3500 ft) in elevation, and are characterized by occasional catastrophic flooding and sedimentation, particularly from large storms that may occur after chaparral fires in the adjacent foothills and mountains. Today, the estuaries at Goleta and Carpinteria apparently represent late successional stages of estuarine ecosystem evolution.
Prehistoric bays or lagoons that once characterized the sites are now largely filled with sediment and lack extensive subtidal and low marsh habitats. The middle and high marsh habitats are irregularly flooded and frequently contain hyperhaline or euryhaline soils, particularly in the vicinity of stream deltas that form salt flat habitats in high marsh areas along deltaic gradients from upland to estuarine wetland (Callaway et al. 1990; Pennings and Callaway 1993).

Wayne R. Ferren Jr.[1], Peggy L. Fiedler[2], Robert A. Leidy[3], Kevin D. Lafferty[4]

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