African Journal of Marine Science

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Unconsolidated sediment distribution patterns in the KwaZulu-Natal Bight, South Africa: the role of wave ravinement in separating relict versus active sediment populations

AN Green, CF MacKay


This paper examines the distribution of unconsolidated sediment in the KwaZulu-Natal Bight located along the east coast of South Africa. Results show that there is a general shelf-wide sediment distribution of coarser grain sizes between depths of 60 and 100 m, punctuated by a broad swathe of mud offshore of the Thukela River. Seasonal changes in sediment distribution patterns are small, being restricted to seaward fining on the inner shelf off the fluvial sources. Sediment distribution reflects a partitioning between sediment populations that are currentinfluenced and relict (palimpsest) populations associated with submerged shorelines. Wave ravinement during the deglacial transgression, the reworking of submerged shorelines during sea-level stillstands and, to a lesser extent, the Agulhas Current system, are the dominant controls on sediment distribution.

Keywords: fluvial, mud, gravel, relict, river, sand, sea level, shelf, soft sediments
AJOL African Journals Online