Scientia Marina, Vol 74, No 1 (2010)

The El Masnou infralittoral sedimentary environment (Barcelona province, NW Mediterranean Sea): morphology and Holocene seismic stratigraphy

Gemma Ercilla
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain

Ferran Estrada
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain

David Casas
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain

Ruth Durán
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain

Marta Nuez
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain

Belén Alonso
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain

Marcel·li Farrán
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain


A detailed analysis of the morphology and the Holocene seismic and sequence stratigraphy and architecture of the infralittoral sedimentary environment of the El Masnou coast (Catalonia, NW Mediterranean Sea) was carried out using multibeam bathymetry and GeoPulse seismic data. This environment extends down to 26-30 m water depth, and is defined morphologically by two depositional wedges whose seafloor is affected by erosive furrows, slides, fields of large- and small-scale wavy bedforms, and dredging trenches and pits. Erosive terraces are also identified in the transition domain toward the inner continental shelf. The Holocene stratigraphy of the infralittoral environment is defined by two major seismic sequences (lower and upper), each one formed by internal seismic units. The sequences and units are characterised by downlapping surfaces made up of deposits formed by progradation of coastal lithosomes. The stratigraphy and stratal architecture, displaying a retrogradational arrangement with progradational patterns of minor order, were controlled by different sea-level positions. The stratigraphic division represents the coastal response to the last fourth-order transgressive and highstand conditions, modulated by small-scale sea-level oscillations (≈1-2 m) of fith to sixth order. This study also highlights the advantage of an integrated analysis using acoustic/seismic methods for practical assessment of the anthropogenic effects on infralittoral domains based on the association of marine geological observations.


infralittoral environment; morphology; stratigraphy; Holocene; El Masnou

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