Influence on present-day coastal dynamics and evolution of a relict subaqueous delta lobe: Sol de Riu lobe, Ebro Delta


We used high-resolution swath-bathymetry data to characterise the morphology of the abandoned subaqueous Sol de Riu delta lobe in the Ebro Delta, Western Mediterranean Sea. This study aims to assess the influence of an abandoned delta lobe on present-day coastal dynamics in a micro-tidal environment. Detailed mapping of the relict Sol de Riu lobe also showed a set of bedforms interpreted as footprints of human activities: seasonal V-shaped depressions on the middle shoreface due to boat anchoring and old trawling marks between 16 and 18 m water depth. Estimations of the mobility of bottom sediment showed that the shallowest shoreface (i.e. less than 7 m depth) is the most dynamic part of the relict lobe, while the middle shoreface experienced significant morphological changes since the lobe was abandoned. The deepest shoreface (i.e. water depth in excess of 15 m), which corresponds to the front of the lobe, is defined by a very small potential for morphological change. Simulations showed that while the relict lobe does not significantly affect the typical short period waves (Tp ≈4 s) in the study area, it does interfere with the most energetic wave conditions (Tp ≥ 7 s) acting as a shoal leading to the concentration of wave energy along the shoreline northwest of the lobe. The consequence of such modification of the high-energy wave propagation pattern by the relict lobe is an alteration of the wave-induced littoral sediment dynamics with respect to a situation without the lobe.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

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Continental Shelf Research



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