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Environmental conditions for gravelly and pebbly dunes and sorted bedforms on a moderate-energy inner shelf (Marettimo Island, Italy, western Mediterranean)

AuthorsLo Iacono, Claudio CSIC ORCID; Guillén, Jorge CSIC ORCID
KeywordsInner shelf
Gravel dunes
Sorted bedforms
Issue Date1-Feb-2008
CitationContinental Shelf Research 28(2): 245-256 (2008)
AbstractSide scan sonar records, sediment textural characteristics, and in-situ field observations were used to study gravelly and pebbly dunes and sorted bedforms on the inner shelf of Marettimo Island, along the northwestern Sicilian shelf. The dunes are composed of coarse sands, gravels and pebbles (D50: 2–16 mm), displaying a symmetrical shape with a wavelength in the range of 1–2.5 m and a height of 0.15–0.30 m. The bedforms are distributed in a patchy pattern in a depth range of 10–50 m, and are described for the first time on a Mediterranean inner shelf. Sorted bedforms are linear morphological features developed almost perpendicular to the coast in the eastern sector of the island between 15 and 50 m water depth. Bottom shear stresses required for sediment entrainment and the generation of the shallower dunes can be reached during strong storms (Hs=5–6 m; Tp=9–11 s), which are not common in the Mediterranean Sea. However, wave storm events recorded in the study area during the last 17 years are not able to generate the coarsest and deeper dunes, suggesting that the stirring mechanism for dune formation is associated with severe storms that have a recurrence interval of more than 17 years. The long-term stability of the coarse bedforms is supported by the permanence of sorted bedforms without significant morphological changes for long periods (>13 years). Therefore, it is shown that processes forming coarse bedforms can occur in tideless and moderate-energy settings like those of the Mediterranean continental shelves, although the morphological features are probably less dynamic and remain unaltered for longer periods than on higher-energy shelves
Description12 pages, 11 figures, 1 table
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