The Formation of the Danube Delta

Did you know that the Formation of the Danube Delta started in the prehistoric age? And that Herodotus was the first one to attest it only 2.400 years ago? If you didn’t know or if you want to know more, let’s learn a little bit of history and geography.


The Formation of the Danube DeltaThe Formation of the Danube Delta – History

Herodotus “the father of history” pictured a very different image of the delta than what we know today. When Darius’s Persian fleet walked on this land, Herodotus made the first historical attestation of the Danube Delta, describing it as an immense estuary.

Later on, in the second century B.C., Polybius described the delta as an area with sandbars and branches in between. In the first century B.C., Strabo described seven branches with islands in between, an image described also by Pliny the Elder, Ptolomeus, and others. These accounts prove that the delta, like any new land, is in a continuous state of instability and change. Even on the first Romanian map of the Moldavia Principality, drawn up 250 years ago by Dimitrie Cantemir, the image of the Delta resembled vaguely with the one we know today. This shows that the formation of the Danube Delta has not ended yet.


The Formation of the Danube Delta – Geography

According to scientific studies, the formation of the Danube Delta started approximately 16,000 ago. It represents a constant battle between the forces of nature and between land and water, which has shaped the face of this territory since the prehistoric age. 16,000 ago, a coastline was formed between Letea and Caraorman which closed Tulcea Bay and turned it into a lagoon. This was a consequence of the interaction between river and sea. The silting process of the lagoon with alluvial deposits carried by sea currents along the shore from an area situated north from the mouths of Nistru, Bug and Nipru led to the formation of swampy surfaces. Here, the Danube carved out one of its oldest arms, Sfantul Gheorghe.

The second arm of the Danube, Sulina, was formed along with the silting through alluviation of the arm Sf. Gheorghe. Thus, Sulina arm takes up an increasing stream of sediments and gradually begins to form its own deltaic edifice. In the northern part of the Delta, the Chilia arm was also formed by the silting of the Sulina arm. The alluvial deposits from the newly formed arm Chilia led to the advancement of the delta to the north. Inside the delta, the silting of lakes and the formation of new sandbanks is a natural process that continues even today.

The current morphological aspect of the Danube Delta is due to the last rise of the Black Sea level, which created the conditions of a strong alluviation. The consequences were the ramifications of the arms.

And there you have it. A crash course about the formation of the Danube Delta. If you want to learn even more you can click here and visit our blog.