Sedimentary constraints on the development of a narrow deep strait (São Sebastião Channel, SE Brazil)


The São Sebastião Channel (SSC), which separates São Sebastião Island from the continent, is a deep elongated strait on the inner shelf of the São Paulo Bight (SE Brazil). The aim of this study is to explain why it is presently sediment starved, instead of forming a tombolo. Wave data were obtained from both a WW3 model database and buoy records, and wave propagation patterns from the SWAN numerical model. Grain size trend analysis of 579 surficial sediment samples from the strait and the surrounding region served to estimate the residual transport directions. Bedload sediment transport was computed considering in situ currents and bottom sediment grain size. Moreover, six seismic profiles and one gravity core were obtained in the strait in order to evaluate the hickness of the sedimentary deposits. The geometry of the SSC (X/B=0.3, where B is the breakwater or island diameter and X is its cross-shore distance to the mainland) predicts that a tombolo should be formed, and wave patterns confirm that it is a zone sheltered from both S and NE waves. Previous studies have shown that the hydrodynamics of the SSC is controlled by wind-driven currents, which are more intense in the eastern and central sectors of the strait. The western sector is currently covered by sandy mud, whereas very coarse to fine sand prevails in the deeper eastern sector. Sediment patterns show a trend to deposition of fine sediment in the western sector of the SSC and two main depocentres located at the northern limit of the study area and at the southern mouth of the strait. Sandy mud in the western sector forms a 40-m-thick deposit close to the outer limit of Araçá Bay, whereas the remainder of the SSC is covered by a very thin layer of sandy sediments. Dominance of mud in the depositional western sector suggests low availability of sand in the area. Therefore, despite the geometry and wave patterns of the SSC favouring the formation of a tombolo, the dominance of wind-driven currents and the low availability of sand determine that such a sedimentary feature cannot be formed, resulting in a deep strait.

CARRIO, Javier Alcantara; SASAKI, Dalton; MAHIQUES, Michel M. TABORDA, Rui; SOUZA, Luiz Antonio Pereira de. Sedimentary constraints on the development of a narrow deep strait (São Sebastião Channel, SE Brazil). Geo-Marine Letters, v. 37, n.2, p.1-14, fev., 2017.

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