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Wave-driven sediment mobilization on a storm-controlled continental shelf (Northwest Iberia)

November 1, 2014

Seafloor sediment mobilization on the inner Northwest Iberian continental shelf is caused largely by ocean surface waves. The temporal and spatial variability in the wave height, wave period, and wave direction has a profound effect on local sediment mobilization, leading to distinct sediment mobilization scenarios. Six grain-size specific sediment mobilization scenarios, representing seasonal average and storm conditions, were simulated with a physics-based numerical model. Model inputs included meteorological and oceanographic data in conjunction with seafloor grain-size and the shelf bathymetric data. The results show distinct seasonal variations, most importantly in wave height, leading to sediment mobilization, specifically on the inner shelf shallower than 30 m water depth where up to 49% of the shelf area is mobilized. Medium to severe storm events are modeled to mobilize up to 89% of the shelf area above 150 m water depth. The frequency of each of these seasonal and storm-related sediment mobilization scenarios is addressed using a decade of meteorological and oceanographic data. The temporal and spatial patterns of the modeled sediment mobilization scenarios are discussed in the context of existing geological and environmental processes and conditions to assist scientific, industrial and environmental efforts that are directly affected by sediment mobilization. Examples, where sediment mobilization plays a vital role, include seafloor nutrient advection, recurrent arrival of oil from oil-spill-laden seafloor sediment, and bottom trawling impacts.

Publication Year 2014
Title Wave-driven sediment mobilization on a storm-controlled continental shelf (Northwest Iberia)
DOI 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2014.07.018
Authors Ferdinand Oberle, Curt D. Storlazzi, Till Hanebuth
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Marine Systems
Index ID 70135072
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center