Deposition and flux of sediment from the Po River, Italy: An idealized and wintertime numerical modeling study

Marine Geology

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DOI: 10.1016/j.margeo.2009.01.007



Recent studies of sediment dynamics and clinoform development in the northern Adriatic Sea focused on winter 2002-2003 and provided the data and motivation for development of a detailed sediment-transport model for the area near the Po River delta. We used both idealized test cases and more realistic simulations to improve our understanding of seasonal sediment dynamics there. We also investigated the relationship between physical processes and the observed depositional products; e.g. the accumulation of sediment very near the Po River distributary mouths. Sediment transport near the Po River was evaluated using a three-dimensional ocean model coupled to sediment-transport calculations that included wave- and current-induced resuspension, suspended-sediment transport, multiple grain classes, and fluvial input from the Po River. High-resolution estimates from available meteorological and wave models were used to specify wind, wave, and meteorological forcing. Model results indicated that more than half of the discharged sediment remained within 15??km of the Po River distributary mouths, even after two months of intensive reworking by winter storms. During floods of the Po River, transport in the middle to upper water column dominated sediment fluxes. Otherwise, sediment fluxes from the subaqueous portion of the delta were confined to the bottom few meters of the water column, and correlated with increases in current speed and wave energy. Spatial and temporal variation in wind velocities determined depositional patterns and the directions of sediment transport. Northeasterly Bora winds produced relatively more eastward transport, while southwesterly Sirocco winds generated fluxes towards both the north and the south. Eastward transport accounted for the majority of the sediment exported from the subaqueous delta, most likely due to the frequent occurrence of Bora conditions. Progradation of the Po River delta into the Adriatic Sea may restrict the formation of the Western Adriatic Coastal Current, increasing sediment retention at the Po delta and reducing the supply of sediment to the Apennine margin. A positive morphodynamic feedback may therefore be present whereby the extension of the delta into the Adriatic increases sediment accumulation at the delta and facilitates further progradation. ?? 2009 Elsevier B.V.

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Deposition and flux of sediment from the Po River, Italy: An idealized and wintertime numerical modeling study
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Marine Geology
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Marine Geology
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