Laïbi, R. A., Anthony, E. J., Almar, N., Castelle, B., Senechal, Kestenare, E., 2014. Longshore drift cell development on the human-impacted Bight of Benin sand barrier coast, West Africa. In: Green, A.N. and Cooper, J.A.G. (eds.), Proceedings 13th International Coastal Symposium (Durban, South Africa), Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 70, pp. 078–083, ISSN 0749-0208.
The Bight of Benin is an open, microtidal, wave-dominated coast forming a 500 km-long mild embayment in the Gulf of Guinea, in West Africa, between the Volta River delta in Ghana, to the west, and the western confines of the Niger River delta in Nigeria to the east. The bight is exposed to energetic swells from the South Atlantic, and is characterised by Holocene sand barriers bounding lagoons. The barrier system has been sourced essentially by sand supplied through the Volta River delta, terminus of a large river catchment of 397,000 km2, although wave energy conditions and sand mineralogy also suggest inputs from the nearshore shelf. The long-term pattern of barrier progradation in the Bight of Benin culminated in a mildly embayed coast wherein incident wave behaviour, beachface gradient and the longshore sand transport system were intimately linked, generating what may be classified as an ‘equilibrium drift-aligned’ coast with a unique and homogeneous longshore drift cell stretching from the Volta River delta to the Niger River delta. This coast has, however, been significantly impacted over the last 50 years by the construction of three deepwater ports in Lomé (Togo), Cotonou (Benin) and Lagos (Nigeria) that have intercepted sand supply, as well as by a major dam on the Volta River, resulting in destabilization of the former single drift cell on this coast. The ensuing multi-cellular structure is characterised by long sectors of rampant coastal erosion that threatens parts of these cities, coastal villages and infrastructure.