Fluviatile sediment fluxes to the Mediterranean Sea: a quantitative approach and the influence of dams
S. E. Poulos, M. B. Collins, 2002. "Fluviatile sediment fluxes to the Mediterranean Sea: a quantitative approach and the influence of dams", Sediment Flux to Basins: Causes, Controls and Consequences, S.J. Jones, L.E. Frostick
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The Mediterranean drainage basin incorporates more than 160 rivers with a catchment >200 km2, of which only a few are larger than 50 ×103 km2: this observation emphasizes the role of the smaller rivers. The present investigation, incorporating the analysis of data sets from 69 rivers, has estimated a total sediment flux of some 1 × 109 tonnes (t) year−1; of this, suspended sediment contributes some two-thirds of the load, with the remaining third supplied by the combined dissolved and bed-load components. The magnitude of the sediment supply is best demonstrated by various observations: (i) some 46% of the total length of the Mediterranean coastline (46 133 km) has been formed by sediment deposition; (ii) many Mediterranean deltas have prograded in recent times by, at least, several metres per year; and (iii) Holocene coastal (inner shelf) deposits are some tens of metres in thickness. The construction of hundreds of dams around the Mediterranean Sea, especially over the last 50 years, has led to a dramatic reduction in the sediment supply- to approximately 50% of the potential (natural) sediment supply. Such a reduction is considered to be the primary factor responsible for the loss of coastal (mainly deltaic) land, with annual rates of erosion ranging from tens (Ebro, Po) to hundreds of metres (Nile).
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There is an increasing trend in the Earth sciences towards the integration of many subdisciplines. The sedimendatry basin, is a fundamental focal point of many studies, which as a consequence often neglects the complimentary drainage basin or catchment. Sedimentary basins provide a record of Earth history, reflecting the geographical, lithological, oceanographic and ecological development through the rock record. Drainage basins in comparison record ephemeral landscape evolution, where topography is eroded and provides the flux of sediment to the basin. The basin fill reflects the sediment flux from the hinterland and provides evidence of the dynamic geomorphic processes. In context the drainage system and sedimentary basin can be regarded as a ‘production line’ with sedimentary record giving valuable insight into long-term landscape evolution and geomorphological processes illuminating the evolution of sedimentary basins.
This volume assesses the current position of understanding sediment supply to basins with the integration of the many sub-disciplines in the Earth sciences. It documents a mix of hinterland and sedimentary basin studies with a gradation from orogenic belts to the deep marine. The authors represent a wide spectrum of Earth scientist, with leaders in the science providing review papers and new-directive papers in their field of specialization.