Impact of dumped sediments on subaqueous dunes, outer Weser Estuary, German Bight, southeastern North Sea
The impact of dredge spoil disposal on asymmetrical large-scale dunes has been studied at a disposal site in a shallow subtidal area of the outer Weser Estuary (German Bight, southeastern North Sea). Between June and December 1998, this site was used for the disposal of ~3×106 m3 dredge spoil. Repeated bathymetric surveys with a multibeam echosounder system reveal that the artificial supply of sediment provoked significant morphological changes in the dune field, including the infill of dune troughs and even the complete burial of individual dunes. However, even completely buried dunes began to regenerate within a few months. In addition, slow migration of the dunes toward the open sea was observed, indicating net seaward sediment transport in the survey area. Since the dumped sediment does not appear to have a persistent effect on the bedforms and, in all likelihood, will be exported from the estuarine system on medium- to long-term timescales, the investigated area constitutes a suitable disposal site.