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Composite methodology for interpreting sediment transport pathways from spatial trends in grain size: A case study of the Lithuanian coast

Journal article
Authors Milda Kairytè
Rodney Stevens
Published in Sedimentology
Volume 62
Issue 3
Pages 681-696
ISSN 0037-0746
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 681-696
Language en
Keywords Baltic Sea, grain size, Lithuanian coast, sandy deposits, sediment transport, sediment trend analysis, MCLAREN MODEL, PARAMETERS, PATTERNS, SCALE, BEACH, AREAS, Geology
Subject categories Geology


To achieve a more robust interpretation of sediment conditions and transport based on grain size, this study combines the perspectives of two different interpretation techniques that have been developed separately and applied in the literature: (i) 'grain size trend analysis' interprets changes between interrelated sampling sites assuming that sediment in the direction of transport should become either coarser, better sorted and more positively skewed, or finer, better sorted and more negatively skewed; and (ii) the 'population anomalies' method, which estimates the balance between erosion and accumulation processes at each sampling site based on individual site deviations compared with average values for grain-size parameters in the area of interest. The simultaneous use of both approaches enables sedimentological conditions and transport alternatives to be distinguished. This improvement is necessary because site-specific changes and general textural trends provide information that complements the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective. The methods are implemented here using two-dimensional Geographic Information System tools and illustrated for the Lithuanian coast. Grain-size characteristics of 712 surface samples of sandy sediments are used to interpret sediment transport pathways and predominant sedimentological conditions in the Lithuanian coastal zone. In general, coast-parallel sediment transport dominates the entire investigation area, although wave-induced movement perpendicular to the coastline is inferred in the shallow near-shore zone. The deepest areas offshore are characterized by sea floor erosion in the north, whereas an accumulation zone occurs in the relatively deep central part of the study area.

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