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Caribbean Coast: Barranquilla - Cartagena coast
The Barranquilla-Cartagena coastline (Fig. 2) has an approximate length of 100 km and a general S 45º W orientation, controlled by the structural trends of the Tertiary rocks (Fig. 10). El Dique Channel and Cartagena Bay occupy tectonic depressions, whereas Tierrabomba Island and the Barú Peninsula are uplifted sectors capped by Plio-Pleistocene reefs. Because of the artificial connection between El Dique channel and the Magdalena River, El Dique delta is rapidly accreting, with sediments filling the bays of Barbacoas and Cartagena (Vernette 1985).
Coastal formations between Barranquilla and Galerazamba are associated with the San Jacinto Belt, a deformed, Middle Eocene sequence of pelagic, hemipelagic and turbiditic rocks (Duque-Caro 1984). The littoral relief of these formations is typically represented by cliffs, up to 100 m high, and hills dissected by minor Quaternary alluvial valleys.
West of Bocas de Ceniza (Fig. 11) between Barranquilla and Galerazamba (Fig. 10), the coastline shows a serrated pattern consisting of steep cliffs (5 to 40 m high) cut into consolidated Tertiary sediments of the San Jacinto Belt (Fig. 12). Most cliffs are fronted by narrow beaches supplied by erosion of Tertiary formations and sand eroded from the Magdalena River delta.
Between Galerazamba and Punta Canoas, the coastline is dominated by depositional features fronting inactive cliffs, mainly sandy spits and bars that modulate the coastal indentations. Historical information for this area (Ramírez 1959, Raasveldt and Tomic 1958, Correa 1990, Morton and Correa 2004) shows large shoreline changes along this segment of coast, including erosion of a 12-km-long, EW-oriented spit reported in 1794 (Fig. 13) and formation of the 7 km2 Isla Cascajo tombolo (Fig. 14).
From Punta Canoas Peninsula (Fig. 10) to the Bay of Cartagena, the coastline is dominated by detrital erosional beaches (Figs. 15 and 16) and bars that extend to the northern side of Cartagena Bay. There extensive land reclamation has been used to enlarge the city of Cartagena (Fig. 17).
Tierrabomba Island and the Barú Península are composed of Plio-Pleistocene mudstones and limestones that show evidence of recent relative sea-level changes, including wave-cut platforms (Fig. 18), elevated caves, and stacks. The features are as much as 5 m above present sea level and have been dated as late Holocene (Vernette 1985). Steep erosional cliffs and narrow calcareous pocket beaches dominate the outer coastlines of Tierrabomba Island and the Barú Peninsula. Extensive mangrove swamps are found along the margins of the Cartagena and Barbacoas Bays.
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