Evolution and internal architecture of an active mixed sand-gravel barrier spit (Somme Bay, Northern France) - Normandie Université Access content directly
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Evolution and internal architecture of an active mixed sand-gravel barrier spit (Somme Bay, Northern France)


Interest on coastal barriers is closely related to the strong anthropogenic pressure on coastal environments. Nevertheless, morphodynamic evolution of coastal barriers and the way it is recorded in the internal structure are still revealing many uncertainties. Coastal spits have a high potential of preservation due to their fast elongation under littoral drift, and are thus suitable for this kind of study. Compared to sandy spits, gravel and mixed spits are understudied. Yet these coarse-grained coastal barriers are sensitive sedimentary bodies due to the high energy conditions they are usually associated with and to often scarce sediment supply. The present study focus on the relationships between multi-decadal morphological evolution of a mixed sand and gravel spit in the bay of Somme (Northern France) and its sedimentary architecture. A geophysical survey using a 400 MHz GPR antenna have been performed on the Molliere spit, a fast-growing secondary spit developing along the main 15 km-long Somme barrier spit. The development of this sedimentary body starts in the 1950s and allows a morpho-stratigraphical approach, thanks to the cross analysis of aerial photographs and GPR profiles. The spit is 5 km long and is composed of several ridges, sometimes with hooks at the tip. It is supplied by flint pebbles originating from the erosion of Cretaceous chalk cliffs south of the bay, and transported by a northward longshore drift. A synthetic depositional and stratigraphical model specific to gravel spits is proposed, based on radar profiles and aerial photographs analysis, differentiating three contrasting morpho-sedimentary units. The first unit at the spit root is characterized by mainly progradating structures that can be assimilated to a beach ridge. The second unit in the central part of the spit is characterized by individual ridges with a core structure reflecting a longshore development, topped by an aggradating unit associated to a cross-shore-dominated dynamics. At the spit terminus, the third unit is also mainly characterized by longshore dynamics, but interfering with sand bank dynamics due to the proximity of the Somme estuary and the development of the spit platform. A detailed 3D stratigraphical analysis of a hook inflexion point gives a first insight into the processes of reactivation of a recurved terminus, leading to a new phase of longshore elongation. Larger-scale GPR prospecting, especially in older coast sections, will be necessary to understand how this fast secondary spit development (decadal to centennial time scale) is integrated into the longer-term (millennial) construction dynamics of the main Somme spit.
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hal-03283659 , version 1 (12-07-2021)


  • HAL Id : hal-03283659 , version 1


Léo Pancrazzi, Pierre Weill, Bernadette Tessier, Laurent Benoît, Sophie Le Bot. Evolution and internal architecture of an active mixed sand-gravel barrier spit (Somme Bay, Northern France). 35th IAS Meeting of Sedimentology, Jun 2021, Virtual, Czech Republic. ⟨hal-03283659⟩
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