ABSTRACT

Trinidad's modern coastal depositional systems are for the first time documented by (traditional) descriptive and (modern) semiquantitative and quantitative classification methods. The processes controlling the morphology and distribution of these systems are also investigated. Google Earth™ satellite images, together with published basinal processes data (e.g., significant wave height, surface littoral currents, and tidal cyclicity) are used to describe system morphology, map depositional elements, and to determine the processes responsible for system distribution, respectively.

Coastal depositional systems along Trinidad's east, south, and west coasts comprise deltas, estuaries, tidal-inlet complexes, strandplains, and tidal flats. Their distribution is controlled by the wave regime, although they are also influenced by tidal and fluvial processes. The wave regime changes from wave-dominated along the open east coast, to mixed-energy wave-dominated along the semi-sheltered south coast, and to mixed-energy tide-dominated along the sheltered west coast. Distribution of depositional systems related to this regime are such that the wave-dominated east coast sees the development of wave-dominated estuaries. The south coast has a series of wave-dominated, tide- and river-influenced deltas. The sheltered west coast is the most morphologically diverse with river- and wave-dominated deltas, strandplains, and tidal flats.

The application of semiquantitative and quantitative classification methods on modern systems has showed their competence in classifying mixed-influence systems from their morphology and sedimentary record. Quantitative classification using depositional elements lends an appreciation to the morphological signatures of mixed-influence systems. Quantitative classification for sedimentary sections gives an appreciation of the preservation of mixed-influence physical processes. The combination of both allows the correlation of the impact of physical properties on morphology and sedimentary record (i.e., possible disparities between morphology and processes). The combination of semiquantitative and quantitative methods may also hold the key to unlocking the mixed-processes classification of depositional elements.

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