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Formation of fine sediment deposit from a flash flood river in the Mediterranean Sea

October 17, 2014

We identify the mechanisms controlling fine deposits on the inner-shelf in front of the Besòs River, in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. This river is characterized by a flash flood regime discharging large amounts of water (more than 20 times the mean water discharge) and sediment in very short periods lasting from hours to few days. Numerical model output was compared with bottom sediment observations and used to characterize the multiple spatial and temporal scales involved in offshore sediment deposit formation. A high-resolution (50 m grid size) coupled hydrodynamic-wave-sediment transport model was applied to the initial stages of the sediment dispersal after a storm-related flood event. After the flood, sediment accumulation was predominantly confined to an area near the coastline as a result of preferential deposition during the final stage of the storm. Subsequent reworking occurred due to wave-induced bottom shear stress that resuspended fine materials, with seaward flow exporting them toward the midshelf. Wave characteristics, sediment availability, and shelf circulation determined the transport after the reworking and the final sediment deposition location. One year simulations of the regional area revealed a prevalent southwestward average flow with increased intensity downstream. The circulation pattern was consistent with the observed fine deposit depocenter being shifted southward from the river mouth. At the southern edge, bathymetry controlled the fine deposition by inducing near-bottom flow convergence enhancing bottom shear stress. According to the short-term and long-term analyses, a seasonal pattern in the fine deposit formation is expected.

Publication Year 2014
Title Formation of fine sediment deposit from a flash flood river in the Mediterranean Sea
DOI 10.1002/2014JC010187
Authors Manel Grifoll, Vicenç Gracia, Alfredo L. Aretxabaleta, Jorge Guillén, Manuel Espino, John C. Warner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Index ID 70129159
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center