6 févr. 2012

Impacts géomorphologiques des cyclones sur les littoraux coralliens - Séminaire

Je présenterai le jeudi 9 février à 13h30 au CRIOBE de Moorea les résultats des deux études menées sur les impacts géomorphologiques des cyclones tropicaux Oli et Tomas ayant touché respectivement la Polynésie française et Fidji en 2010.

Geomorphic responses of coral coasts to tropical cyclones. Recent examples from French Polynesia and Fiji.

This talk will present the diversity of geomorphic responses of coral coasts to high energy event such as tropical cyclones. Two recent cases will be examined: the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Oli in French Polynesia and those of TC Tomas in Fiji. Both storms formed during the 2009-10 South Pacific cyclone season.
Tropical Cyclone Oli struck the western part of French Polynesia in February 2010. Submarine reef erosion is quantified through coral colony degree of destruction and massive coral colony displacement. Sediment transport and beach retreat are quantified, and flow velocities at the coastline are estimated through boulder analysis. In this particular event, outer reef slope angle appears as a major control factor for coral destruction with vertical submarine cliffs relatively shielded compare to gentle slopes (Tubuai, Tahiti). Submarine boulder measurements provide valuable estimates of flow velocity profile with depth. Beachrock slabs measurements provide also estimates of flow velocities at the reef/beach junction. Combining these different geomorphic markers might be a way to apprehend the flow velocity variation when the cyclone waves cross the coral reef.
Tropical Cyclone Tomas, a category-4 intensity system, battered northern and eastern islands of Fiji in March 2010. The striking impression overall was the range of cyclone constructional imprints that nourished existing coastal sediments. Fresh coral boulders strewn across reef platforms indicate the power of TC Tomas was sufficient to deliver new coral blocks (mostly derived from fore-reef sources rather than the reef surface). Flow velocities of the storm surge at the shoreline were estimated through mathematical modeling of angular beachrock slabs plucked out of in situ exposures. Coralline shingle tongues encountered on the coastline, together with isolated beach ridges and sand-sheets in both beach and back-beach locations indicate how the variable and discontinuous nature of cyclogenic accretionary features poses a greater challenge in terms of identification and interpretation in the sedimentological record compared with tsunamigenic deposits on affected coastlines.
The study of geomorphic impacts of modern high energy events on coral coasts helps to improve the interpretation of ancient sedimentary deposits associated with coastal flooding. A better knowledge of marine inundation history (frequency and intensity) is crucial in the perspective of natural hazard mitigation.