Shifting Shores is a project funded by an Emergences grant from the City of Paris, Bureau de l’Innovation


Coasts concentrate nowadays a large proportion of the world’s population, as well as key infrastructure and economic activities, from tourism to industry. The settlement of the coasts over the twentieth century has been possible through the continued attempt at stabilizing their configuration. Coasts, however, remain among the most unstable physical features of the planet and are nowadays menaced of submersion by sea level rise. Nowhere these contradictions are more evident than in river deltas. Over the twentieth century, deltas have been increasingly exploited and consequent attempts at stabilizing their morphology have multiplied. Over the same period, however, many deltas have also started retreating and subsiding.

Why did this happen? The project seeks to answer this question by reconnecting the history of river’s and the history of delta’s engineering, via the analysis of social and natural alterations to the sediments (sand and gravel) transported by rivers to deltas. This project focuses on three comparable deltas of the Mediterranean: the Po (Italy), the Rhone (France), and the Ebro (Spain) river deltas and combine historical methods, sources and approaches with those of fluvial geomorphology. Incorporating the knowledge and insights of geomorphological research on the causes and timing of gemorphic alterations in these river basins through time, this project will focus in particular on the history of knowledge of sediment transport and delta’s geomorphology and on the management and (mis) management by actors of river basin development and delta’s infrastructure.


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