The Evolution of Danube Delta After Black Sea Reconnection to World Ocean

  • Alfred Vespremeanu-StroeEmail author
  • Luminiţa Preoteasa
  • Florin Zăinescu
  • Florin Tătui
Part of the Springer Geography book series (SPRINGERGEOGR)


This chapter presents synthetically the latest progresses made on Danube Delta evolution based on new cores, sedimentological and morphological analyses which together with the newly obtained absolute ages (AMS 14C and OSL) shed a new light upon the delta formation in both its evolutionary phases (chronology) and the growth patterns. It is the first proposed reconstruction of the fluvial delta which succeeds to date delta front advancement (Old Danube lobe: 8/7.5–5.5 ka) into Danube Bay and the formation of the initial spit. Contrary to the former views, for the first time, it is proven that the early stage of delta plain formation preceded with more than a millennium both the inception of the initial spit and the relative stabilization of the sea level. Moreover, the fluvial delta morphology is reinterpreted to show that most of the present landscape is the recent result of fluvial aggradations which followed after the initial topography (former delta plain) was drowned through the concurrent action of subsidence and sea level rise. With regard to the maritime delta, we bring new arguments into the debate concerning the southern delta (composed by lagoons and sandy barriers built by longshore circulation versus deltaic lobes construction and reworking) which demonstrate that a southern distributary (Dunavăţ, derived from Sf. Gheorghe) had an intense activity and formed open-coast lobes during 2.6–1.3 ka. Moreover, the evolution of each of the six open-coast lobes belonging to maritime delta is systematically presented in relation with Danube flow changes with a focus on their chronology, progradation rates and spatial extension. New evidences have been also produced to document the changes induced by the solid discharge reduction on the Danube since the mid-twentieth century, which recently fostered the shifting of the active lobes from asymmetric to deflected (Sf. Gheorghe) or from fluvial dominated to wave influenced (Chilia).


Deltaic lobe River deltas Delta front Sea-level rise Neotectonics Lobe switching 



Research activities were undertaken in the frame of Sfântu Gheorghe Marine and Fluvial Research Station, Faculty of Geography, University of Bucharest. We are grateful to all our colleagues participating to field campaigns: Cristi Ţepurică, Liliana Croitoru, Florin Voicu and Diana Hanganu. We are highly indebt to our colleague Dr. Sabin Rotaru who helped us in field campaigns, data analysis and stratigraphy columns drawing. We thank Dr. Marius Stoica for guidance in microfaunal sample analysis. This work has been carried out thanks to the support of the project number PNII-RU-TE-2011-3-0293 awarded to AVS and PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-2527 awarded to LP, funded by the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research (CNCS-UEFISCDI).


  1. Anthony EJ (2015) Wave influence in the construction, shaping and destruction of river deltas: a review. Mar Geol 361:53–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Antipa G (1914) Câteva probleme ştiinţifice şi economice privitoare la Delta Dunării. An. Acad. Rom., Mem. Sect. St. 2(36):61–135 (in Romanian)Google Scholar
  3. Ashton AD, Giosan L (2011) Wave-angle control of delta evolution. Geophys Res Lett 38:L13405. doi: 10.1029/2011GL047630 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ashton AD, Murray AB (2005) Delta simulations using a one-line model coupled with overwash. Coastal Dynamics ’05, Barcelona, SpainGoogle Scholar
  5. Banu AC, Rudescu L (1965) Delta Dunării, Bucureşti (in Romanian)Google Scholar
  6. Bhattacharya JP, Giosan L (2003) Wave-influenced deltas: geomorphological implications for facies reconstruction. Sedimentology 50(1):187–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bony G, Morhange C, Marriner N, Baralis A, Kaniewski D, Rossignol I, Lungu V (2015) History and influence of the Danube Delta lobes on the evolution of the ancient harbour of Orgame (Dobrogea, Romania). J Archaeol Sci 61:186–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brătescu C (1921) Contribuţii la studiul deltei dunărene. Evoluţia morfologică şi cronologică a ei. BSRG 30:35–56 (in Romanian)Google Scholar
  9. Brückner H, Kelterbaum D, Marunchak O, Porotov A, Vött A (2010) The Holocene sea level history since 7500 BP—lessons from the eastern Mediterranean, the Black and Azov seas. Quatern Int 225(2):160–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buynevich IV, Bitinas A, Pupienis D (2015) Aeolian sand invasion: georadar signatures from the Curonian Spit dunes, Lithuania. In: Randazzo G, Cooper JAG, Jackson D (eds) Sand and gravel spits. Springer, pp 67–78Google Scholar
  11. Carozza JM, Micu C, Mihail F, Carozza L (2012) Landscape change and archaeological settlements in the lower Danube valley and delta from early Neolithic to Chalcolithic time: a review. Quatern Int 261:21–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carozza JM, Carozza L, Radu V, Leveque F, Micu M, Burens-Carozza A, Opreanu G, Haită C, Danu D (2013) Apres le deluge: evolution geomorphologique du delta du Danube après la reconnexion Mer Noire-Mer Mediterannee et ses implications sur le peuplement eneolitique-chalcolitique. Quaternaire, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 24(4):503–512Google Scholar
  13. Coteţ PV (1960) Evoluţia morfohidrografică a deltei Dunării. Probleme de geografie VII (in Romanian)Google Scholar
  14. de Martonne E (1931) Europe Centrale, II. Paris, pp 786–787Google Scholar
  15. Del Rio L, Benavente J, Gracia FJ, Alonso C, Rodriguez-Polo S (2015) Anthropogenic influence on spit dynamics at various timescales: case study in the Bay of Cadiz (Spain). In: Randazzo G, Cooper JAG, Jackson D (eds) Sand and gravel spits. Springer, pp 123–138Google Scholar
  16. Filip F, Giosan L (2014) Evolution of Chilia lobes of the Danube Delta: reorganization of deltaic processes under cultural pressure. Anthropocene 5:65–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gâştescu P (2009) The Danube Delta biosphere reserve. Geography, biodiversity, protection, management. Rev Roum Géogr/Rom J Geogr 53(2):139–152Google Scholar
  18. Ghenea C, Mihăilescu N (1991) Palaeogeography of the lower Danube Valley and Danube Delta during the last 15000 years. In: Starkel L, Gregory KJ, Thornes JB (eds) Temperate palaeohydrology; fluvial processes in the temperate zone during the last 15000 years. Wiley, New York, p 548Google Scholar
  19. Giosan L (2007) Morphodynamic feedbacks on deltaic coasts: lessons from the wave-dominated Danube Delta. In: Proceedings of coastal sediments, pp 828–841Google Scholar
  20. Giosan L, Vespremeanu E, Donnelly JP, Bhattacharya J, Buonaiuto F (2005) River delta morphodynamics: examples from the Danube Delta. In: Giosan L, Bhattacharya J (eds) River deltas: concepts, models, case studies. SEPM Special Publication 83, pp 391–410Google Scholar
  21. Giosan L, Donnelly JP, Constantinescu Ş, Filip F, Ovejanu I, Vespremeanu-Stroe A, Vespremeanu E, Duller GAT (2006) Young Danube Delta documents stable Black Sea level since the middle Holocene: morphodynamic, paleogeographic, and archaeological implications. Geology 34(9):757–760CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Giosan L, Coolen M, Kaplan JO, Constantinescu S, Filip F, Filipova-Marinova M, Kettner AJ, Thom N (2012) Early anthropogenic transformation of the Danube-Black Sea system. Sci. Rep. 2:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Giosan L, Constantinescu Ș, Filip F, Deng B (2013) Maintenance of large deltas through channelization: nature vs. humans in the Danube delta. Anthropocene 1:35–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jerolmack DJ, Swenson JB (2007) Scaling relationships and evolution of distributary networks on wave-influenced deltas. Geophys Res Lett 34(23):L23402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kaplan JO, Krumhardt KM, Zimmerman NE (2009) The prehistoric and preindustrial deforestation of Europe. Quatern Sci Rev 28:3016–3034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Komar PD (1973) Computer models of delta growth due to sediment input from rivers and longshore transport: Geological Society of America. Bulletin 84:2217–2226Google Scholar
  27. Li W, Bhattacharya JP, Yingmin W (2011) Delta asymmetry: concepts, characteristics and depositional models. Petroleum Science 8:278–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Liteanu E, Pricăjan A (1963) Alcătuirea geologică a Deltei Dunării: Hidrobiologia 4:57–82 (in Romanian)Google Scholar
  29. Mihăilescu V (1947) Geografia României. Facultatea de Ştiinţe, Bucureşti (in Romanian)Google Scholar
  30. Mikhailova MV, Levashova EA (2001) Sediment balance in the Danube river mouth. Water Resour 28:180–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Panin N (1972) Histoire Quaternaire du Delta du Danube. Essai d’interpretation des facies des depots deltaiques. Cercetări Marine 4:5–15Google Scholar
  32. Panin N (1983) Black Sea coast line changes in the last 10,000 years. A new attempt at identifying the Danube mouth as described by the ancients. Dacia 27:175–184Google Scholar
  33. Panin N (1989) Danube Delta. Genesis, evolution and sedimentology. Revue Roumaine de Geologie, Geophysique, Geographie 33:25–36Google Scholar
  34. Panin N (2003) The Danube delta geomorphology and Holocene evolution: a synthesis. Géomorphologie 4:247–262Google Scholar
  35. Panin N, Panin S, Herz N, Noakes JE (1983) Radiocarbon dating of the Danube delta deposits. Quatern Res 19:249–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Polonic G, Zugrăvescu D, Horomnea M, Dragomir V (1999) Crustal vertical recent movements and the geodynamic compartments of Romanian Territory, Istanbul, Turkey. In: 2nd Balkan Geophysical Congress. Book of Abstracts 300–301Google Scholar
  37. Popp N (1961) Caracterizarea litologică a pământurilor Deltei Dunării pe baza datelor de foraj. Meteorologia, hidrologia şi gospodărirea apelor 4:126–139Google Scholar
  38. Popp N (1965) Geneza şi evoluţia Deltei Dunării în general şi a stufăriilor în special. In: Monografia stufului din Delta Dunării, pp 13–23 (in Romanian)Google Scholar
  39. Preoteasa L, Vespremeanu-Stroe A, Hanganu D, Katona O, Timar-Gabor A (2013) Coastal changes from open coast to present lagoon system in Histria region (Danube Delta). In: Conley DC, Masselink G, Russell PE, O’Hare TJ (eds) Proceedings of the 12th international coastal symposium (Plymouth, England), J Coast Res SI 65:564–569Google Scholar
  40. Preoteasa L, Vespremeanu-Stroe A, Tatui F, Zăinescu F, Gabor-Timar A, Cârdan I (2016) The evolution of an asymmetric deltaic lobe (Sf. Gheorghe, Danube) in association with cyclic development of the river-mouth bar: long-term pattern and present adaptations to human-induced sediment depletion. Geomorphology 253:59–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Romanescu G (2009) The geomorphological evolution of the Razim-Sinoie barrier spit during the historical periods. Pontica 42:493–517Google Scholar
  42. Slanar H (1945) Zur Kartographie und Morphologie des Donaudeltas. Mitteilungen der geogr. Gesselschaft 1–12. WienGoogle Scholar
  43. Soulet G, Menot G, Lericolais G, Bard E (2011) A revised calendar age for the last reconnection of the Black Sea to the global ocean. Quatern Sci Rev 30(9–10):1019–1026CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stanley DJ, Warne A (1994) Worldwide initiation of Holocene marine deltas by deceleration of sea-level rise. Science 265(5169):228–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ştefănescu CM (1982) La formation et l’evolution du delta du Danube. Comite des Traveaux Histoiques et Scientifiques, Biblioteque Nationale, ParisGoogle Scholar
  46. Syvitski JPM, Kettner AJ, Overeem I, Hutton EWH, Hannon MT, Brakenridge GR, Day J, Vorosmarty C, Saito Y, Giosan L, Nicholls RJ (2009) Sinking deltas due to human activities. Nat Geosci 2:681–686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tamura T (2012) Beach ridges and prograded beach deposits as palaeoenvironment records. Earth Sci Rev 114:279–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Vâlsan G (1934) Nouvelle hypothèse sur le Delta du Danube: Warsaw. Congrès International de Géographie, Comptes Rendus II:342–355Google Scholar
  49. Vespremeanu-Stroe A, Preoteasa L (2015) Morphology and the cyclic evolution of Danube Delta spits. In: Randazzo G, Cooper JAG, Jackson D (eds) Sand and gravel spits. Springer, pp 327–339Google Scholar
  50. Vespremeanu-Stroe A, Preoteasa L, Hanganu D, Brown T, Bîrzescu I, Toms P, Timar-Gabor A (2013) The impact of the Late Holocene coastal changes on the rise and decay of the ancient city of Histria (Southern Danube Delta). Quatern Int 293:245–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vespremeanu-Stroe A, Preoteasa L, Zăinescu F, Rotaru S, Croitoru L, Timar-Gabor A (2016) Formation of the Danube Delta bech ridge plains and signatures in morphology. Quatern IntGoogle Scholar
  52. Vespremeanu-Stroe A et al. (submitted) Holocene evolution of the Danube delta: an integral reconstruction and a revised chronology. Marine GeologyGoogle Scholar
  53. Zenkovich VP (1956) Zagadka Dunaiskoi Delty. Priroda 45:86–90Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfred Vespremeanu-Stroe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luminiţa Preoteasa
    • 1
  • Florin Zăinescu
    • 1
  • Florin Tătui
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of GeographyUniversity of BucharestBucharestRomania

Personalised recommendations