Quantification of Erosion and Sedimentation patterns to Trace the natural versus anthropogenic sediment dynamics


Completed: December 2006 - 2010

Quest4D will mainly focus on a better definition of the sediment and sediment transport system of the Belgian Continental Shelf . Knowledge on these processes is crucial, because of the central role of sediment in ecosystem studies. Sustainable development requires the quantification of human impacts, against the seafloor's ecological value. The natural evolution of the sediment needs to be disentangled against the impact of dredging, aggregate extraction, fisheries and beach replenishment on the ecosystem's physical functioning. The integration and synthesis of the extensive results will first allow distinguishing the natural from the anthropogenically-induced sediment dynamics. From this, also the adaptation of the marine ecosystem on changes will be derived. Following, predictions will be made using different sea-level rise scenarios with the aim of determining the impact of those changes on the sediment processes and budgets. The quantification of erosion/sedimentation patterns is important for the development of criteria, monitoring strategies and future options to enhance sustainable exploitation/management practices. In particular, the allocation of efficient dumping grounds, large-scale aggregate extraction and sustainable coastal protection schemes will be evaluated, in the perspective of future sea-level rise scenarios. Other socio-economic relevance is related to the destruction of habitats or any sediment-bound issues, such as the prediction of sources/sinks of pollutants.