Impact of oceanic floods on particulate metal inputs to coastal and deep-sea environments: A case study in the NW Mediterranean Sea

Vincent Roussiez, Serge Heussner, Wolfgang Ludwig, Olivier Radakovitch, Xavier Durrieu de Madron, Cécile Guieu, Jean Luc Probst, André Monaco, Nicole Delsaut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An exceptional flood event, accompanying a marine storm, was investigated simultaneously at the entrance and the exit of the Gulf of Lion's hydrosystem (NW Mediterranean) in December 2003. Cs, Cr, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb signatures of both riverine and shelf-exported particles indicate that continental inputs and resuspended prodeltaic sediments were intensively mixed with resuspended sediments from middle/outer shelf areas during advective transport. As a result, particles leaving the Gulf of Lion inherited the mean signature of shelf bottom sediments, exporting anthropogenic Pb and Zn out into the open sea. When assessing the particulate metal budget in relation with the event, it appears that the output fluxes accounted for between 15% and 60% of the input fluxes, depending on the element and the period of reference. This trend is also observed for annual budgets, which were drawn up by compiling the data from this study and the literature. Results evidenced that, except some element fluxes during extreme output scenario, outputs never counterbalance the inputs. In its current functioning, the Gulf of Lion's shelf seems to act as a retention/sink zone for particulate metals. Regarding anthropogenic fluxes, the contribution of the oceanic flood of December 2003 to the mean annual scenario is considerable. Environmental impacts onto coastal and deep-sea ecosystems should therefore tightly depend on both the intensity and the frequency of event-dominated sediment transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalContinental Shelf Research
StatePublished - Aug 15 2012


  • Anthropogenic export
  • Continental shelf
  • Deep-sea
  • Gulf of Lion
  • Oceanic flood
  • Particulate metal budget
  • Sediment transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Geology


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