Prodeltaic Undulations and Hyperpycnal Flows (I): Morphological Observations

  • Patricia Bárcenas
  • Francisco José LoboEmail author
  • Luis Miguel Fernández-Salas
  • Miguel Ortega-Sánchez
  • Isabel Mendes
  • Jorge Macías


Fields of submarine undulations occurring over prodeltaic slopes may be caused in some circumstances by the imprint of high-density sediment flows (i.e. hyperpycnal flows). This is the case of numerous Mediterranean settings, where marked seasonal climates and abrupt inshore physiography are conducive to the generation of these flows. In this contribution we examine the morphological patterns of undulations that are compatible with such an origin. Prodeltaic undulations occur off the offlap breaks on relatively low slopes (1°–2°) and show dominance of landward-directed forms. Morphological parameters of undulations such as heights, widths and lengths exhibit distinctive dimensions and tend to follow consistent patterns around nearby river mouths. In particular, height distributions tend to follow symmetric patterns, and vertical form indexes are lower than those of other sediment waves with a different genesis. These observations are compatible with geological processes under the influence of high-density sediment flows, such as different deposition rates due to enhanced bedload transport. Lateral changes of river mouths involving modifications of sediment flows are also imprinted in the geomorphological parameters of this kind of undulation.


Multibeam bathymetry Prodeltaic undulations Hyperpycnal flows Alborán sea 



This work is a contribution to the projects MOSAICO (P06-RNM-01594) and TESELA (P11-787 RNM7069) funded by the “Junta de Andalucía”, and it is also related to project CGL2011-30302-C02-02 funded by the Spanish Ministry for Economy and Competitiveness. Isabel Mendes thanks the Portuguese Science Foundation (FCT) for grant SFRH/BPD/72869/2010. The manuscript was improved thanks to useful comments and suggestions made by Roger Urgeles (CSIC-Institut de Ciències del Mar, Barcelona, Spain) and by an anonymous reviewer.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Bárcenas
    • 1
  • Francisco José Lobo
    • 2
    Email author
  • Luis Miguel Fernández-Salas
    • 3
  • Miguel Ortega-Sánchez
    • 4
  • Isabel Mendes
    • 5
  • Jorge Macías
    • 1
  1. 1.Dpto. Análisis MatemáticoFacultad de CienciasMálagaSpain
  2. 2.Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la TierraCSIC-Universidad de GranadaArmilla, GranadaSpain
  3. 3.Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centro Oceanográfico de CádizCádizSpain
  4. 4.Andalusian Institute for Earth System ResearchUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain
  5. 5.CIMAUniversidade do AlgarveFaroPortugal

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