Bedforms, coastal-trapped waves, and scour process observations from the continental shelf of the northern Black Sea

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The Black Sea basin presents an ideal laboratory for investigations of morphodynamic interplay between response (morphology) and force (processes) associated with shelf sedimentation. Recent studies along the perimeter of the basin have documented the existence of a complex, heterogeneous seafloor varyingly composed of sand, gravel, silt, and clay. Side-scan sonar data are utilized to establish the spatial patterns of bedform types in the area. In addition, a benthic tripod, confi gured with an acoustic Doppler current profi ler, a rotary fanbeam sonar, and a conductivity-temperature sensor was deployed to record seabed dynamics in response to changing forcing conditions. Together, the tripod and side-scan survey data sets provide a complementary basis for deciphering the processes responsible for the observed seafloor morphology. The side-scan sonar data allows for the determination of spatial patterns of bedform length and orientation. In total, 2376 individual large sand wave bedforms were digitized in geographic information systems with mean and modal wavelengths of 72.8 and 15.7 m respectively. The correlation of near-inertial waves (velocity amplitude 12-20 cm/s and period 12-16 h) and bedform geometry suggest that the extensive sand-wave patches imaged across the shelf are affected by active modern processes and may themselves be modern features or perhaps relict features that remain active presently. Progressive vector diagrams of the nearbed mean current flow indicate a component of cross-shelf directed flow suggesting an enhanced potential for artifact preservation via cross-shelf advection of anoxic bottom waters by the near-inertial flows measured in this study. © 2011 Geological Society of America.

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Special Paper of the Geological Society of America