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  • Mark Coughlan
    University College DublinGavin and Doherty Geosolutions, Dublin, Ireland
  • Marco Guerrini
    University College Dublin
  • Shauna Creane
    Gavin and Doherty Geosolutions, Dublin, IrelandUniversity College Cork
  • Michael O'Shea
    University College DublinUniversity College Cork
  • Sophie Ward
  • Katrien Van Landeghem
  • Jimmy Murphy
    University College DublinUniversity College Cork
  • Paul Doherty
    Gavin and Doherty Geosolutions, Dublin, Ireland
The seafloor is increasingly being used for siting renewable energy and telecommunication infrastructure as well as supporting key fisheries and biodiversity. Understanding seabed stability and sediment dynamics is, therefore, a fundamental need for offshore engineering and geoscience and biological studies. In this study we aim to quantify the levels of sediment mobility in the Irish Sea: an area of increasing socio-economic interest and subsequent seabed pressures. The temporal and spatial interaction between bathymetry, hydrodynamics and seabed sediments leads to a complex pattern of erosion, bedload transport and deposition which can affect seabed infrastructure and modify habitats. Information on current and wave conditions were obtained from numerical modelling to assess their role in generating seabed hydrodynamic conditions. These outputs were coupled with observed seabed grain-size data to predict the exceedance of sediment mobility thresholds by bed shear stress values for a period of one year according to empirical formulae. Exceedance frequency values were used to calculate a number of sediment disturbance and mobility indexes to allow for a robust assessment of sediment dynamics. Sediment in the Irish sea, on average, is being mobilised 35% of the time during the year, with 35% of the spatial area studied being mobilised over 50% of the time. Even in areas of low sediment mobilisation frequency (<5%), there are implications for bedform dynamics. The spatial patterns of the calculated sediment mobility are discussed in the context of current seabed geomorphology and the implications for both engineering and environmental considerations.


  • Classification, Disturbance, Irish sea, Mobilisation, Modelling, Sediment
Original languageEnglish
Article number104574
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Early online date5 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

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