Modelling of estuarine response to sea-level rise during the Holocene: Application to the Guadiana Estuary–SW Iberia

Sampath Dissanayake, Tomasz Boski, Carlos Loureiro, Carlos Sousa

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper focuses on simulations of the morphological evolution of an estuary during sedimentary infilling that accompanied Holocene sea-level rise. The simulations were conducted using the Estuarine Sedimentation Model, which uses a behaviour-oriented approach, supported by the chronostratigraphy of the estuary's sedimentary sequence. Behaviour curves were computed to represent the relationship between the estuarine channel depth below maximum high tide and the net accretion at a given location relative to the average sedimentation rate of the estuary during the Holocene. The model was validated by comparing the observed present-day bathymetry of the Guadiana River Estuary, southeastern Portugal, with the corresponding simulated bathymetries for nine control sections across the estuary. The best fit between simulated and actual sediment surface elevations was obtained along the cross-sections in the sheltered, low-energy environments of the estuary. The accuracy of the sedimentary stratigraphy of the best-fit model was further established using 16 radiocarbon ages obtained from five boreholes in the estuary. The present approach is particularly suitable for simulating long-term morphological evolution in sheltered estuarine environments where tidally driven vertical aggradation dominates at centennial to millennium timescales. However, the accuracy of simulated sediment surface elevations and consequently the robustness of behaviour-type models based on Geographical Information System platforms can be enhanced by incorporating (i) the impacts of nearshore hydrodynamic processes and episodic flood events in highly energetic channels, and (ii) the impacts of cross-currents in meandering channel sections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-64
Early online date7 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Mar 2015


  • Guadiana estuary
  • Hindcasting
  • Morphological evolution
  • Sea-level rise
  • Behaviour-oriented models


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