Suspended sediment load at the lowermost Ebro River (Catalonia, Spain)
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Several attempts to estimate the suspended load and the sediment deficit caused by the reservoirs have been carried out in the lower Ebro River. However, existing data are scarce, scattered along time and space, and obtained under different hydrological conditions and methods. This study estimate the presently suspended sediment load of the lowermost Ebro River, using field data collected during three consecutive years at different verticals of a cross-section and covering a large range of discharges. In addition, the daily suspended load for the last 30 years has been reconstructed and validated. The suspended load for the period 2007-2010 has been estimated at 84,000 t/y (+/- 9800 t) while 99,500 t/y (+/- 18,000 t) accounted for 1981-2010 period. Approximately, 80% of the total suspended load (period 2007-2010) has been transferred as inorganic load. A significant seasonal variability in the total (organic and inorganic) suspended load is observed. Therefore, two distinct cycling phases in the suspended load production and transfer has been inferred: an initial phase in which the sediment was prepared into the basin followed by a second phase in which most of the load was transferred downstream. These two phases are governed by the relative temporal location of the natural floods and the river regulation from the reservoirs. Nowadays, less than 1% of suspended load is transferred compared to pre-dams construction. The current levels of suspended load are very low and not enough to supply the material needed to maintain the delta elevation and avoid coastal retreat. The sustainability of the lower Ebro River and its delta could only be guaranteed by the implementation of a new reservoir management concept with the allocation of an appropriate liquid and solid flow regime.
CitationRovira, A., Ibáñez, C., Martín-Vide, J.P. Suspended sediment load at the lowermost Ebro River (Catalonia, Spain). "Quaternary international", Novembre 2015, vol. 388, p. 188-198.