Morphodynamics, sedimentary and anthropogenic influences in the San Vicente de la Barquera estuary (North coast of Spain)
Keywords:Estuary, Progradation, Flood-tidal delta, Coriolis, Anthropogenic influences
The estuary of San Vicente de la Barquera (Cantabria, Spain) occupies two fluvial valleys that have incised into soft sedimentary rocks (Lower Mesozoic) and are controlled by inactive faults. These two estuary subsystems, the Escudo (main valley) and Gandarilla, share outer estuarine zones, i.e., a sandy bay and an estuary-mouth complex. The complexity of the system lies in the presence of a confining barrier formed by an aeolian dune/ beach system that is currently enclosed by a jetty, which has allowed the dune progradation over the past 50 years. Furthermore, connected to the inner inlet in the sand bay there is a flood-tidal delta, the most important morphosedimentary and dynamic unit. This unit exhibits a heart shape caused by the wide range of flows in this estuarine zone and channelizes the flows and sediments into the estuary, primarily during rising and high tides. In particular, the counter-clockwise surficial rotation due to the Coriolis effect is essential to the development of sand shoals, spill-over lobes, sand waves and megaripples. The presence of estuarine beaches into the bay is common in many Cantabrian estuaries, even culminating in small dune fields, in this case due to anthropogenic influences. This paper explains the impact on the estuary of human occupation and port management, focussing on the dynamic and sedimentary distribution of a bar-barrier estuary and the changes produced in its distal part by the construction of the two jetties in the mouth.
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