African Journal of Aquatic Science

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Recent shoreline changes in the Volta River delta, West Africa: the roles of natural processes and human impacts

EJ Anthony, R Almar, T Aagaard


The Volta River delta developed as an asymmetric lobe in a tectonic offset on the coast of Ghana. The delta comprises a large curvilinear spit that widens in its central portion due to the adjunction of successive sandy beach ridges. The appearance of a distinct spit, in lieu of a continuous barrier from the present mouth of the Volta River to the Bight of Benin coast, may be an outgrowth of a natural change in the location of the mouth of the Volta. The spit marks a segmentation of the unique sand drift cell that hitherto prevailed on this bight coast. Spit growth has been accompanied by a wave of erosion over the last century of the immediate downdrift sector of the bight coast, endangering the town of Keta. Erosion since the 1960s may have been aggravated by the construction of the Akosombo hydropower dam. The tip of the spit has recently welded to the shoreline, thus assuring resumption of sand supply from the Volta towards the rest of this formerly sand-starved sector of the bight coast. Blocking of sediment by the Akosombo Dam is, in due course, likely to become the overarching factor in delta shoreline stability.

Keywords: Akosombo Dam, Bight of Benin, longshore drift cell, wave-influenced delta
AJOL African Journals Online