Environmental transformation of polluted ecosystems through time and evaluation of environmental regeneration projects.
The great variety of activities concentrated on the coastal area are making compulsory the implementation of complex management plans. Historically this area has experienced an intense human pressure that provoked its continuous physical destruction and a deep chemical and biological transformation. The development of environmental conservation and regeneration schemes on particular ecosystems makes necessary to carry out geological studies in order to evaluate their modern characteristics, their historical alteration processes, and the feasibility of environmental improvement proposals.
Sea-level variations as a consequence of the anthropogenic climate change.
Despite that an increase in the sea-level rise rate is potentially one of the most devastating impacts of climate change on the coastal areas, our knowledge of the climate-ocean relationship at small scale is very poor. Climate change influences the coastline at decadal and centennial scales, and these variations of the relative sea level are registered in the coastal sedimentary sequences. The combined study of historical and instrumental records together with high resolution geological reconstructions of the relative sea level is a powerful tool to fill this gap.
Environmental evolution during the Holocene as a consequence of natural processes.
Due to the frequent, rapid and intense climatic changes that characterize the late Quaternary period, coastal environments have experienced dramatic variations. Those sediments that have accumulated on these areas contain a very complete record of the processes and events that occurred during this time interval. The high-resolution multiproxy study of this sedimentary record allows to reconstruct the past features, to understand the present conditions and to deduce the possible future environmental variability.
Study of sedimentary processes with social and economic consequences.
Sedimentary processes in the estuarine areas are frequently altered by human-induced activities such as dredgings and dumpings, which in some cases lead to undesirable repercussions (migration of meanders and sandbars, disappearance of waves, closure of channels, sand beach erosion, …). Sedimentological studies contribute to a great extent to understand the role of the anthropogenic influence and to establish suitable strategies for sustainable development of these areas.
Geological assessment of coastal archaeological deposits.
Human exploitation of natural resources has left a significant fingerprint (metal enrichments, occupation and destruction of ecosystems) in the coastal environments from ancient times. Geochemical and isotopic analyses of sediments, combined with micropalaeontological data, have been used to deal with the evaluation of the pollution levels and the ecological impacts derived from these activities in coastal archaeological deposits.