Long-, Mid- and Short-Term Evolution of Coastal Gravel Spits of Brittany, France - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
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Long-, Mid- and Short-Term Evolution of Coastal Gravel Spits of Brittany, France

Abstract

Gravel spits of Brittany have experimented a long morphosedimentary evolution over the last millenia. Based on analysis of several back-barrier holocene sediment stratigraphies, distinct phases of construction and barrier breakdown were recognized, indicating the role played by storminess and sediment supply during the late-holocene period. Over the last centuries and decades, a deficit of sediment bubget affecting several gravel spits is highlighted. Therefore, actual coastal evolution of most of them is mainly dominated by cannibalization, landward retreat by rollover and complete destruction of the spits in some places. This coastal erosion is related to the lack of significant offshore sediment input or from the erosion of unconsolided cliffs. Locally, anthropogenic forcing have axacerbated the erosion processes by sediment minings and/or the construction of hard defense structures. For the swash-aligned gravel spits, frequency and magnitude of overwash processes is controlling the rate of landward retreat by rollover. This morphodynamic behaviour is illustrated by topo-morphological surveys realised between 2002 and 2012 on Sillon de Talbert spit which has experienced a complete crestal removal during the 10 March 2008 Johanna storm. Although this event have a 50-100yrs occurence, the barrier has exhibited a rapid crestal rebuilding by overtopping processes, illustrating the great resilience of the spit. Thus, coastal erosion management strategies mainly based on hard defense structures are gradually abandoned for new management policies based on soft operations. Nowadays, gravel spits of Brittany are also considered as a geological heritage and management plans are establishing by local authorities. 1. GENERAL SETTING In Brittany, gravel beaches are located mainly on the northern and western coast (fig. 1). Their construction is mainly due to the shoreward removing of periglacial deposits initially accumulated on the coastal shelf during the post-glacial marine transgression. The southern part of Brittany is characterized by sandy beaches and coastal dunes, except locally where a coarse material is provided by erosion of cliffs formed by Pleistocene deposits (head). Nowadays, unconsolidated cliffs are considered as the most significant source of coarse sediments in Brittany (Guilcher et al. 1957, 1990). In the Bay of Brest, the highly weathered of shale cliffs also contribute locally to feed the gravel barriers. In the Bay of Brest, the indentations of the jagged coastline were favorable to the construction of a numerous smale-scale barriers and spits with a high morphological diversity (fig. 2A to 2D). The lenght and the volume of gravel spits in the bay of Brest never exceed 700 m and 100.000 m 3 respectively. Nevertheless, the Sillon de Talbert spit studied in the north of Brittany forms the bigger accumulation reaching 3.2 km long and sediment volume estimated at 1.23 x 10 6 m

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Geomorphology
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Dates and versions

hal-01146229 , version 1 (28-04-2015)

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Pierre Stéphan, Serge S. Suanez, Bernard Fichaut. Long-, Mid- and Short-Term Evolution of Coastal Gravel Spits of Brittany, France. G. Randazzo; D. Jackson; A. Cooper. Sand and Gravel Spits, 12, Springer, pp.275-288, 2015, Coastal Research Library, ⟨10.1007/978-3-319-13716-2_15⟩. ⟨hal-01146229⟩
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