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

Published in: African Journal of Marine Science
Volume 38, issue sup1, 2016 , pages: S65–S74
DOI: 10.2989/1814232X.2016.1145138
Author(s): AN GreenGeological Sciences, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, South Africa, CF MacKayOceanographic Research Institute, South Africa


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 current- influenced 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.

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