Across a limited depth range (5-10 m) on many continental shelves, the dominant sediment size changes from sand to mud. This important boundary, called the sand-mud transition (SMT), separates distinct benthic habitats, causes a significant change in acoustic backscatter, represents a key facies change, and delimits more surface-reactive mud from less surface-reactive sand. With the goal of improving dynamical understanding of the SMT, surficial sediments were characterized across two SMTs on the Adriatic continental shelf of Italy. Geometric mean diameter, specific surface area (SSA), mud fraction (<63 ??m) and heavy metal concentrations were all measured. The SMT related to the Tronto River is identified between 15 and 20 m water depth while the SMT associated with the Pescara River varies between 15 and 25 m water depth. The sediment properties correlate with a new, process-based sedimentological parameter that quantifies the fraction of the sediment in the seabed that was delivered as flocs. These correlations suggest that floc dynamics exert strong influence over sediment textural properties and metal concentrations. Relative constancy in the depth of the SMT along this portion of the margin and its lack of evolution over a period during which sediment input to the margin has dramatically decreased suggest that on the Adriatic continental shelf energy is the dominant control on the depth of the SMT. ?? 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Flocculation, heavy metals (Cu, Pb, Zn) and the sand-mud transition on the Adriatic continental shelf, Italy