Impact of natural (waves and currents) and anthropogenic (trawl) resuspension on the export of particulate matter to the open ocean Application to the Gulf of Lion (NW Mediterranean)

Type Article
Date 2008-08
Language English
Author(s) Ferre B1, Durrieu De Madron X1, Estournel C2, Ulses C2, Le Corre Gildas3
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Perpignan, CNRS, CEFREM, F-66025 Perpignan, France.
2 : Univ Toulouse, CNRS, LA, Toulouse, France.
3 : DRH, IFREMER, Sete, France.
Source Continental Shelf Research (0278-4343) (Elsevier), 2008-08 , Vol. 28 , N. 15 , P. 2071-2091
DOI 10.1016/j.csr.2008.02.002
WOS© Times Cited 61
Keyword(s) Mediterranean, Trawling, Fisheries, Shelf slope exchanges, Sediment transport, Sediment dynamics
Abstract Modern sediment deposits on continental margins form a vast reservoir of particulate matter that is regularly affected by resuspension processes. Resuspension by bottom trawling on shelves with strong fishing activity can modify the scale of natural disturbance by waves and currents. Recent field data show that the impact of bottom trawls on fine sediment resuspension per unit surface is comparable with that of the largest storms.

We assessed the impact of both natural and anthropogenic processes on the dispersal of riverborne particles and shelf sediments on the Gulf of Lion shelf. We performed realistic numerical simulations of resuspension and transport forced by currents and waves or by a fleet of bottom trawlers. Simulations were conducted for a 16-month period (January 1998-April 1999) to characterise the seasonal variability. The sediment dynamics takes into account bed armoring, ripple geometry and the cohesive and non-cohesive characteristics of the sediments. Essential but uncertain parameters (clay content, erosion fluxes and critical shear stress for cohesive sediment) were set with existing data. Resuspension by waves and currents was controlled by shear stress, whereas resuspension by trawls was controlled by density and distribution of the bottom trawler fleet.

Natural resuspension by waves and currents mostly occurred during short seasonal episodes, and was concentrated on the inner shelf. Trawling-induced resuspension, in contrast, occurred regularly throughout the year and was concentrated on the outer shelf. The total annual erosion by trawls (5.6 x 10(6) t y(-1), t for metric tonnes) was four orders of magnitude lower than the erosion induced by waves and currents (35.3 x 10(9) t y(-1)). However the net resuspension (erosion/deposition budget) for trawling (0.4 x 10(6) t y(-1)) was only one order of magnitude lower than that for waves and currents (9.2 x 10(6) t y(-1)). Off-shelf export concerned the finest fraction of the sediment (clays and fine silts) and took place primarily at the southwestern end of the Gulf.

Off-shelf transport was favoured during the winter 1999 by a very intense episode of dense shelf water cascading. Export of sediment resuspended by trawls (0.4 x 10(6) t y(-1))was one order of magnitude lower than export associated with natural resuspension (8.5 x 10(6) t y(-1)). Trawling-induced resuspension is thought to represent one-third of the total export of suspended sediment from the shelf.

A simulation combining both resuspension processes reveals no significant changes in resuspension and export rates compared with the sum of each individual process, suggesting the absence of interference between both processes. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Ferre B, Durrieu De Madron X, Estournel C, Ulses C, Le Corre Gildas (2008). Impact of natural (waves and currents) and anthropogenic (trawl) resuspension on the export of particulate matter to the open ocean Application to the Gulf of Lion (NW Mediterranean). Continental Shelf Research, 28(15), 2071-2091. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :