Measurements of currents, waves and light transmission obtained with an instrumented bottom tripod (GEOPROBE) were used in conjunction with a theoretical bottom-boundary-layer model for waves and currents to investigate sediment transport on the continental shelf south of the Ebro River Delta, Spain. The current data show that over a 48-day period during the fall of 1984, the average transport at 1 m above the seabed was alongshelf and slightly offshore toward the south-southwest at about 2 cm/s. A weak storm passed through the region during this period and caused elevated wave and current speeds near the bed. The bottom-boundary-layer model predicted correspondingly higher combined wave and current bottom shear velocities at this time, but the GEOPROBE optical data indicate that little to no resuspension occurred. This result suggests that the fine-grained bottom sediment, which has a clay component of 80%, behaves cohesively and is more difficult to resuspend than noncohesive materials of similar size. Model computations also indicate that noncohesive very fine sand in shallow water (20 m deep) was resuspended and transported mainly as bedload during this storm. Fine-grained materials in shallow water that are resuspended and transported as suspended load into deeper water probably account for the slight increase in sediment concentration at the GEOPROBE sensors during the waning stages of the storm. The bottom-boundary-layer data suggest that the belt of fine-grained bottom sediment that extends along the shelf toward the southwest is deposited during prolonged periods of low energy and southwestward bottom flow. This pattern is augmented by enhanced resuspension and transport toward the southwest during storms. ?? 1990.
Additional publication details
Bottom-boundary-layer measurements on the continental shelf off the Ebro River, Spain