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Shoreface sand supply and mid- to late Holocene aeolian dune formation on the storm-dominated macrotidal coast of the southern North Sea
Anthony, E.J.; Mrani-Alaoui, M.; Hequette, A. (2010). Shoreface sand supply and mid- to late Holocene aeolian dune formation on the storm-dominated macrotidal coast of the southern North Sea. Mar. Geol. 276(1-4): 100-104.
In: Marine Geology. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0025-3227; e-ISSN 1872-6151, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Holocene; tide- and storm-dominated coast; tidal-flat; aeolian dune;

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  • Anthony, E.J.
  • Mrani-Alaoui, M.
  • Hequette, A.

    Although pulses of coastal dune development in the course of the Holocene have been attributed to variations in the availability of sand, to modulation of sand supply by sea level change, and to changes in wind conditions, identifying the processes driving such pulses has been rather elusive. The shore deposits bordering the tide- and storm wave-dominated southern North Sea evince complex mid- to late Holocene stratigraphy and sediment heterogeneity. These deposits include a unique 7 km-long, 0.3-0.6 km-wide, and up to 7 m-high aeolian sand unit, the Ghyvelde dune, occurring astride the French-Belgian border in an apparently 'anomalous inland location. The dune overlies, and is surrounded by, tidal sandy and muddy deposits incorporating freshwater peat. Data from four mechanical cores and eight auger holes, and three radiocarbon ages and one OSL age suggest that this inland dune was part of an ancestral North Sea sand flat and mudflat environment. Confronting the dune stratigraphy with the prevailing tide- and storm-controlled dynamics of shoreline progradation in this area indicates that dune formation occurred under a pulse of abundant sand supply resulting from the attachment, to a mid-Holocene North Sea tidal-flat shore, of a shoreface tidal bank under repeated storms. This mode of onshore sand supply generates extremely rapid progradation (up to 1 km over a century) of the sand flat shore, the surface of which serves as a large aeolian fetch zone for active backshore dune accumulation, while parts of this surface trap, locally, significant amounts of mud that are subsequently fossilised by aeolian sand. The potential influence of sea level and storminess in modulating the timing of shoreface sand supply and late Holocene coastal dune development in the southern North Sea, reported in studies from other areas, remains to be established.

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