Quest4D will mainly focus on a better definition of the sediment and sediment transport system of the Belgian part of the North Sea . Knowledge on these processes is crucial, because of the central role of sediment in ecosystem studies.
Sustainable development requires the quantification of human impacts, against the seafloor's ecological value. Recent impact studies have shown only localised effects, though indications of a longer-term and broader-scale degradation of the seafloor exist. This is due possibly to cumulative anthropogenically-induced effects, but the natural evolution and the response of the seafloor due to sea-level rise are poorly known. Nonetheless, it is likely that changing wave climate and an increased storminess induce different erosion/sedimentation patterns. Such evolution needs to be disentangled against the impact of dredging, aggregate extraction, fisheries and beach replenishment on the ecosystem's physical functioning.