The Once and Future Danube River Delta

By Carlowicz, Mike | Oceanus, September 2005 | Go to article overview

The Once and Future Danube River Delta


Carlowicz, Mike, Oceanus


Past changes in World Heritage site offer lessons for proposed river projects

"The Danube Delta is like the Everglades," said Liviu Giosan, who grew up near the Romanian wetlands. More than 300 bird species and 45 freshwater fish species make homes in the fertile labyrinth of marshes, dunes, and channels.

The triangle-shaped, sediment-rich region at the mouth of the Danube River is also rich with human history. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, and the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines built trading ports and military outposts along the coast. A traditional maritime culture persists on the delta, and the United Nations has declared the region a World Heritage site.

The Danube Delta is also a great place for a geologist to study how the coast stretches, contracts, and undulates with time and human interference.

The Danube is Europe's second-longest river and a major artery for trade and transportation. Starting in the Black Forest in Germany, it winds 2,850 kilometers (1,770 miles) through nine countries before pouring into the Black Sea from Romania and Ukraine. A proposed project to dredge several arms and channels of the river for shipping will fundamentally alter the delta, said Giosan, a coastal geologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

"We have experience from other parts of the world with the damage that occurs from altering rivers and wetlands," he said. "Why not learn from that?"

The delta-named for its resemblance to the Greek letter Δ-serves as a sieve filtering fresh water and sediment from the European interior before it reaches the salty sea. Buried in the sediments lies a geologic record of a moving, changeable shoreline that has shaped human history; in recent years, history has been shaping the river. For several years, Giosan has been working with geographer Emil Vespremeanu of Bucharest University and WHOI geologist Jeff Donnelly to dig into the Danube's secrets.

They traveled in small "dormitory" boats from Tulcea, where the roads end, to a base station near the Black Sea coast. They cruised small canals and arms of the river to take sediment cores from old beach ridges, and they used sonar to chart the shape of the seafloor near the mouth. Blending field geology with computer modeling, they are reconstructing the forces that changed the flow and structure of the delta in the past and figuring out what this can tell us about how the delta could change in the future.

"We need to understand the river mouth, where a delta is built," said Giosan. The traditional understanding of deltas holds that the river carries all the mud and sand deposited at the river mouth. But Giosan questioned this old assumption, and he and his colleagues are showing that not all the sediment is brought by the river. Waves, currents, and tides also help build the delta from the seaward side by moving and depositing sediments at the coast.

In fact, the river can serve as a natural barrier to the flow of water and sand that builds and erodes the coast. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Once and Future Danube River Delta
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.