On the morphological long-term development of dumped material in a low-energetic environment close to the German Baltic coast


The development of the bed bathymetry of an experimental dumping area was followed over three-and-a-half years by means of multibeam echosounder techniques. Two types of material were discharged in the bight of Mecklenburg in the Baltic Sea in approximately 20 m of water depth. One set of the discharges was 2900 m3 of glacial till and the other set was a 2400 m3 mixture of glacial till, sand and minor amounts of cohesive matter. Only approximately 2500 m3 (86%) of the glacial till and 1500 m3 (63%) of the mixed soil materials were deposited on the seabed. This means that already during the dumping process a considerable part of the sediment material drifted away. The glacial till formed crater-like rings of 30 m diameter with peaks up to 1.4 m above seabed, whereas the spatial structure of the mixed soil material was somewhat more diffuse, but with similar magnitudes in the peaks and troughs. The morphological changes were small and their quantification required a high measuring precision in the order of few cm in the vertical. The dominant processes of surface deformation was flattening of peaks and filling of troughs. The speed of this process decreased with horizontal scale: structures of less than 4 m horizontal extension had a trend to disappear within less than five years, whereas structures of larger than 8 m extension showed little change and are estimated to remain detectable for many decades. In contrast to the reworking of the matter inside the dumping structures, no net transport of material out of the dumping area could be detected. Extrapolating the observed morphological changes into the future it is estimated that without significant decrease in internal shear strength of the disposed till the structures will persist for at least 70 years. This can be attributed to the high internal stability of the dumped glacial till and the low hydrodynamic forces present at the seabed in this region.
QR Code: Link to publication