Human activities for exploitation and utilization of coastal zones have transformed coastline morphology and severely changed regional flow fields, underwater topography, and sediment distribution in the sea. In this study, single-beam bathymetry coupled with sediment sampling and analysis was carried out to ascertain submarine topography, geomorphology and sediment distribution patterns and explore sediment provenance in Qinzhou Bay, China. The results show the following. 1) The underwater topography in Qinzhou Bay is complex and variable, with water depths in the range of 0–20 m. It can be divided into four underwater topographic zones: the central (outer Qinzhou Bay), eastern (Sanniang Bay), western (east of Fangcheng Port), and southern (outside of the bay) parts. 2) Based on geomorphological features, the study area comprises four major submarine geomorphological units (i.e., tide-dominated delta, tidal sand ridge group, tidal scour troughs, and underwater slope) and two intertidal geomorphological units (i.e., tidal flat and abrasion platforms). 3) Sandy sediments are widely present in Qinzhou Bay, accounting for 70% of the total sediments. From the mouth of the Maowei Sea to the offshore, the sediments gradually become coarser, shifting from sandy mud to muddy sand, and then to fine sand and medium–coarse sand. The detrital minerals contained in the sediments mainly consist of quartz, feldspar, debris, ilmenite, leucosphenite, and tourmaline, whereas the clay minerals are dominated by kaolinite, followed by illite and smectite. The sediment provenance is mainly terrigenous input from near-source rivers. With sea reclamation and dam construction, outer Qinzhou Bay has experienced enormous morphological variation of its coastline. Together with the channel effect where the velocity of ebb tide is greater than that of flood tide, the underwater topography is characterized by increased scale and height difference of troughs and ridges as well as enhanced offshore deposition.
underwater topography and geomorphology; sediment type and source; human activity; Qinzhou Bay
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