Sediment Sources and Transport Pathway Identification Based on Grain-Size Distributions on the SW Coast of Portugal

  • Author(s): Xiaoqin Du, Cristina Gama, James T. Liu, and Paulo Baptista
  • DOI: 10.3319/TAO.2015.03.30.01(TT)
  • Keywords: Sediment grain size, Sediment source, Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis, Grain size trend analysis (GSTA), Sediment transport pathway

Espichel-Sines is an embayed coast in SW Portugal, consisting of two capes at both extremities, a tidal inlet and asso- ciated ebb tidal delta, a barrier spit, sandy beaches, sea cliffs, and a submarine canyon. Beach berm, backshore, near shore and inner shelf sediment samples were taken. Samples were analyzed for their grain-size compositions. This study ranks the hypothetical sediment sources influences on the sediment distributions in the study area using the multivariate Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) techniques. Transport pathways in this study were independently identified using the grain size trend analysis (GSTA) technique to verify the EOF findings. The results show that the cliff-erosion sediment is composed of pebbles and sand and is the most important sediment source for the entire embayment. The sediment at the inlet mouth is a mixture of pebbles, sand, silt, and clay, which is a minor sediment source that only has local influence. The overall grain-size distributions on the shelf are dominated by the sand except for the high mud content around the tidal delta front in the northern embayment. Sediment transport patterns on the inner shelf at the landward and north sides of the canyon head are landward and northward along the barrier spit, respectively. On the south side of the canyon head, the prevailing sediment transport is seaward. Sediment transport occurs in both directions along the shore.

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