Tidal and fluvial controls on the morphological evolution of a lobate estuarine tidal bar: The Plassac Tidal Bar in the Gironde Estuary (France)

Abstract : This study shows the short-term sediment dynamics (2010) and the long-term morphological evolution (1905 to 2008) of a tidal sand bar emplaced in the Gironde Estuary, the Plassac Tidal Bar. This tidal sand bar was selected because it corresponds to a morphological category (lobate shape) that was not previously studied in the setting of estuarine bay-head deltas. A recent high-resolution bathymetric survey (2010) evi- dences the sediment transport pattern, inferred from the lee face orientation of subaqueous dunes. This sediment transport pattern, together with results from previous studies, explains the five main mechanisms for the tidal bar evolution identified from 29 bathymetric maps since 1905: namely, flood ramp infill, partial ebb shield breaching, lateral accretion of the ebb spits and ebb shield lengthening, generated by the merging of mini-flood lobes on the outer sides of the ebb spits. Lateral accretion seems to be a key-process of sediment accretion for lobate tidal sand bars. Most of the evolutions are explained by tidal processes, but a fluvial influence is evidenced by correlating the presence of mini-flood lobes (migrating seaward from the upper reaches of the bay-head delta) and the lengthening of the tidal bar with periods of high fluvial discharge. A ca. 25-year periodicity in both the fluvial discharge and the tidal bar width, length and volume variations is evidenced and suggests a climate control on the tidal bar evolution. A classification of lobate tidal sand bars is proposed in order to distinguish tide-dominated and wave-influenced sand bars emplaced in large estuary mouth or tidal inlets, from tide-dominated and fluvial-influenced sand bars emplaced in bay-head deltas.
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Julie Billy, Eric Chaumillon, Hugues Féniès, Clément Poirier. Tidal and fluvial controls on the morphological evolution of a lobate estuarine tidal bar: The Plassac Tidal Bar in the Gironde Estuary (France). Geomorphology, Elsevier, 2012, 169-170, ⟨10.1016/j.geomorph.2012.04.015⟩. ⟨hal-01242200⟩

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