In 1983, avocational archeologist Paul Tanner of Port Arthur began keeping detailed locational records of artifacts found on the beach, and over time became the chief field researcher for the site.
At about the same time, the Minerals Management Service in the US Department of the Interior became concerned about the possible impact of petroleum exploration and recovery on submerged archeological sites on the continental shelf, and commissioned some studies of the seafloor geology.
Assessing the rate of rise in the Gulf is complicated by the fact that eustatic sea level indicators in the Gulf of Mexico tend to plot higher than contemporaneous indicators elsewhere in the world (for discussion, see the reference by Simms and others in “Sources”).
In the early 1980s, the establishment of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve facility at the Big Hill salt dome (inland from Mc Faddin Beach) led to construction of a brine disposal pipeline across the marsh, the beach, and out into the Gulf.
Survey and backhoe trenching (1982-83) by Coastal Environments, Inc., in advance of this pipeline provided the first formal investigation of the geology immediately inland from the beach, and showed that the artifacts were not coming from this area.
The Deweyville terrace system that flanks these rivers continues onto the continental shelf, running under the waters of the Gulf. P., it had approached to about 40 km away; and by 2800 cal B. Another group of geologists insists that the beach ridges are really storm surge deposits, and document Late Holocene climatic intervals with increased storminess.
As sea level rose, the river valley was flooded, with the contact between fresh and sea water turned into an estuary. They maintain that sea level has risen more or less smoothly to its present level and has never onlapped the land during the Holocene.
A few of the artifacts have marine organisms (barnacles or bryozoa) attached.