Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (1): 146-160.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1589-y

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

Threshold sediment flux for the formation of river deltas in Hainan Island, southern China

Gaocong LI1(), Liang ZHOU2, Yali QI1,3, Shu GAO2,*()   

  1. 1. Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. State Key Laboratory for Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    3. College of Electronics and Information Engineering, Guangdong Ocean University, Zhanjiang 524088, Guangdong, China
  • Received:2017-08-14 Accepted:2017-12-15 Online:2019-01-25 Published:2019-01-25
  • Contact: Shu GAO;
  • About author:

    Author: Li Gaocong (1987-), PhD Candidate, specialized in estuarine and coastal sciences. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41530962,No.41706096;This study also supports in part by the China Scholarship Council, No.201606190151


The knowledge of geomorphological evolution from an estuary to a river delta is necessary to form the formulation of comprehensive land-ocean interaction management strategies. In this study, the dominant factor controlling the geomorphological variability and the threshold sediment flux (TSF) to form a river delta in Hainan Island, southern China, including accommodation space, sediment supply, and reworking forces, was investigated by the method of big data analytics. The results indicated the 25 estuaries in consideration can be divided into three geographical groups, i.e. the multi-factors-controlled northern mixed estuaries, wave-dominated western estuaries with river deltas, and typhoon-dominated eastern coastal lagoon estuaries. For alluvial plain (AP) estuaries, the order of magnitude of TSFs is the smallest (101 kt·yr-1), for barrier-lagoon (BL) ones is the highest (> 102 kt·yr-1), and for drowned valley (DV) ones is moderate (102kt·yr-1). The river deltas associated with DV systems should be relatively large, and those related to BLs should be small, with the AP deltas being between the above mentioned types. The present study provides a technique to evaluate the role played by TSF for the formation of river deltas in micro-tidal and wave-dominated and typhoon-influenced coastal environments.

Key words: estuarine geomorphology, dominant factor, typhoon processes, threshold sediment flux, river delta, Hainan Island