Geomorphological changes in an arid transgressive coastal dune field due to natural processes and human impacts.

Antonio Hernández-Cordero, Luis Hernández-Calvento, Patrick Hesp, Emma Perez-Chacon

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Geomorphological changes in recent decades in an arid transgressive coastal dune system (Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands) are analyzed. The methodology used is based on the generation of two geomorphological maps (1961 and 2003) by interpretation of digital orthophotos. The overlay of both maps in a geographic information system (GIS) enabled the spatial and surface changes of the landforms to be determined, and the processes that generated these changes. Twelve cultural and geomorphological processes were identified from highest to lowest importance, namely: anthropization by urban occupation (114 ha changed), stabilization (92.5 ha), barchanization (37 ha), salinization/halophytication (15 ha), anthropization (12.4 ha), deflation (11.8 ha), dune loss/beach gain (11.3 ha), dune formation (9.6 ha), progradation (8 ha), retrogradation (7.7 ha), destabilization (2.7 ha) and flooding (0.7 ha). Geomorphological changes are associated with a combination of five main factors, three of anthropogenic origin and two natural ones. The natural factors are: (1) the arid climate, which favors changes occurring at high speed; (2) the existence of a progressive sedimentary deficit. Anthropogenic factors are: (3) construction of tourist urbanizations, infrastructures and facilities; (4) installation of equipment or infrastructure on the beaches; (5) the activities carried out by users. These human factors have altered the aeolian dynamics and reduced the area occupied by vegetation in some areas, causing changes in aeolian sedimentary processes. The geomorphological processes identified can be used as indicators of environmental change, allowing us to synthesize the changes in landforms detected, and group all combinations derived from the analysis by GIS and analyze them spatially. Thus, the environmental changes in the transgressive coastal dune systems could be interpreted more effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2167-2180
Number of pages14
JournalThe Holocene
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • aeolian sedimentary landforms
  • geomorphological and environmental changes
  • geoindicator
  • spatio-temporal dynamics
  • urban-touristimpacts
  • urban-tourist impacts


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