Examining the hydro-climatic drivers of lagoon breaching and healing in a deltaic barrier




Gomez, Juan Felipe
Kwoll, Eva
Walker, Ian J.
Orejana, Andres F.

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As sea-level rise (SLR) and human-made interventions affect coastal currents and sediment transport, coastal barriers have become more vulnerable to the effect of storms, hurricanes, and climate variability. The response of each barrier is unique and depends on wave regime, coastline orientation, weather conditions, bathymetry, and type of human-made interventions, among other factors. In the Magdalena River deltaic barrier, located on the Colombian Caribbean coast, coastal erosion has caused the loss of hundreds of square kilometers of critical ecosystems, such as wetlands and lagoons, since the 1960s. This work aims to analyze the short-term drivers behind the observed loss of lagoons, particularly the drivers of lagoon breaching events and subsequent healing along the deltaic barrier. Lagoon breaching events and healings were detected using satellite imagery, and the timing of these events was related to prior local atmospheric, oceanographic, and fluvial conditions. The findings reveal that the dynamics of the lagoons are driven by extreme river discharges and energetic wave conditions associated with storms or hurricanes. Healing is driven by the sediment supplied by littoral currents and average waves punctuated by energetic events. The cumulative effect of breaching and healing has resulted in a deltaic barrier that has rolled over the lagoons, reducing their size over time. These findings provide a better understanding of the forces of coastal retreat and will help inform future management decisions of the coastal zone.



inlets, washouts, overwash, storms, cold fronts, lagoon, breaching events, Magdalena River, Colombian Caribbean, erosion, deltaic barrier


Gómez, J. F., Kwoll, E., Walker, I. J., & Orejarena, A. F. (2023). Examining the hydro-climatic drivers of lagoon breaching and healing in a deltaic barrier. Geosciences, 13(4), 118. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences13040118