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The ‘Voordelta’, the contiguous ebb-tidal deltas in the SW Netherlands: large-scale morphological changes and sediment budget 1965–2013; impacts of large-scale engineering
Elias, E.P.L.; Van der Spek, A.J.F.; Lazar, M. (2017). The ‘Voordelta’, the contiguous ebb-tidal deltas in the SW Netherlands: large-scale morphological changes and sediment budget 1965–2013; impacts of large-scale engineering. Geol. Mijnb. 96(3): 233-259. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1017/njg.2016.37
Peer reviewed article  

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Trefwoorden
    Marien; Brak water; Zoet water
Author keywords
    coastal morphodynamics; ebb-tidal delta; impact of large-scaleengineering; long-term coastal evolution; the Netherlands; sedimentbudget

Auteurs  Top 
  • Elias, E.P.L., meer
  • Van der Spek, A.J.F., meer
  • Lazar, M.

Abstract
    The estuaries in the SW Netherlands, a series of distributaries of the rivers Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt known as the Dutch Delta, have been engineered to a large extent as part of the Delta Project. The Voordelta, a coalescing system of the ebb-tidal deltas of these estuaries, extends c.10 km offshore and covers c90 km of the coast. The complete or partial damming of the estuaries had an enormous impact on the ebb-tidal deltas. The strong reduction of the cross-shore directed tidal flow triggered a series of morphological changes that continue until today. This paper aims to give a concise overview of half a century of morphological changes and a sediment budget, both for the individual ebb-tidal deltas and the Voordelta as a whole, based on the analysis of a unique series of frequent bathymetric surveys. The well-monitored changes in the Voordelta, showing the differences in responses of the ebb-tidal deltas, provide clear insight into the underlying processes. Despite anthropogenic dominance, knowledge based on natural inlets can still explain the observed developments. Complete damming of the three northern estuaries Brielse Maas, Haringvliet and Grevelingen resulted in a regime shift, from mixed-energy to wave-dominated, and sediments are transported in landward and downdrift direction. This results in large morphodynamic changes – sediments are redistributed from the delta front landward – but small net volume changes – a 0.1–0.2 × 106 m3 a−1 increase in volume over the period 1965–2010 – since the dams block sediment transport into the estuaries. Sediment volume losses of 106 m3 a−1 are observed on the ebb-tidal delta of the partially closed Eastern Scheldt and still open Western Scheldt estuary. As a result of a reduction of the estuarine tide in the mouth of the Eastern Scheldt, the north–south-running North Sea tidal wave has gained impact on its ebb-tidal delta, which causes morphological adjustments and erosion of the Banjaard shoal area. Moreover, the Eastern Scheldt ebb-tidal delta delivers sediment to its neighbours. The stable ebb-tidal delta configuration in the Western Scheldt, despite major dredging activities, illustrates that these large inlet systems are robust and resilient to significant anthropogenic change, as long as the balance between the dominant hydrodynamic processes (tides and waves) does not alter significantly.

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