Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Field study techniques

A field study techniques day covers the methodology and skills required to undertake an investigation into two of the following four options: sand dune succession or management and coastal or river processes.  Work is  focused more on the techniques and methodology used in the field rather than the investigation of issues or the testing of hypotheses. Approximately 2-3 hours are available for working at each of the two sites.

Coastal Processes
Travel time: 15 minutes
Sitges coastal processes study
Sitges sand beach
This study investigates the coastal processes operating along the Sitges coast.

Evidence for longshore movements and dominant wave directions can be gained through a study of pebble long axes and alignments.

Comparisons can be made of shingle and sand beach profiles.


Coastal management at Sitges, Spain


River Processes
Travel time: 15 minutes
Riera de Ribes flash flood hazard study
Riera de Ribes
Flash flood hazard and river management.

The Riera de Ribes is normally a dry river and the investigation is based on a historic flood notch on a river cliff.

The river flood cross-section and gradient are measured. Discharge is calculated using the hydraulic radius and Manning n formula.

Bank-full cross-sections downstream allow the risk to recent housing and camp site developments on the river floodplain to be assessed.

Flash flood management case study


Sand Dune Vegetation Succession
Travel time: 30 minutes
Sand dune vegetation succession study
Llobregat Delta

Vegetation succession. Measurement of abiotic variables, distribution and abundance of plant species from pioneer zone to climax community.

Llobregat Delta

The impact of coastal development pressures on fragile habitats

Location: Gavā
Travel time: 30 minutes

This fieldwork investigates the threats to fragile sand dune ecosystems along the coastline to the southwest of Barcelona. It examines the impact of human activity and the variations in biodiversity between managed and unmanaged dunes.

The construction of the Gavā coastal walkway aims to protect the dune ecosystem mainly by reducing extensive trampling. Landscape architecture must deal with the abiotic and biotic processes of the dune system and the Gavā coastal walkway has been developed to achieve these goals.

Managed dune ecosystem at the Gava coastal
walkway (February 2008)
Managed dune ecosystem at the Gavā coastal walkway (February 2008)

Unmanaged dune ecosystem at the Gava coastal
walkway (February 2008)
Unmanaged dune ecosystem at the Gavā coastal walkway (February 2008)

Contrasts may be drawn with the protected sand dunes at the nearby Llobregat Delta Nature Reserve. Access is restricted to permit holders and field visits are not possible during the Spring nesting season.

Protected dune ecosystem at the Llobregat Delta Nature Reserve
Protected dune ecosystem at the Llobregat Delta Nature Reserve

Gavā dunes methodology

Sand dune management



All fieldwork is supported with secondary data. These fieldwork studies take a full day.