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Hydrodynamics of salt marsh creek systems; implications for marsh morphological development and material exchange



Hydrodynamics of salt marsh creek systems; implications for marsh morphological development and material exchange



Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 17(3): 235-252



Integrated ebb-aligned drainage systems are a feature of tide-dominated marshes, and are generally regarded as major conduits for material exchange. In north Norfolk, highly unsteady creek flows exhibit well-developed velocity and stress transients which result from the discontinuous nature of the tidal prism and the interaction of shallow water tidal inputs with hydraulically rough vegetated surfaces. Marsh morphological development is governed by a form-process feedback, in the sense that the marsh surface acts as a topographic threshold separating the depositional regime of below-marsh tides from the erosional (ebb-dominated) regime of over-marsh tides. Vertical marsh growth results in increasing intermittency of creek sediment transport. Furthermore, velocity transients are associated with large discharges which must be allowed for in material flux computations. Creek flux measurements are not in themselves sufficient to estimate total material budgets, since a large proportion of tidal exchange may take place via the marsh edge. Such studies should focus instead on direct measurement of marsh surface processes. These findings have relevance beyond this back-barrier setting to marshes of different geometry, occupying a broad range of the tidal energy spectrum.

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Accession: 019157623

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DOI: 10.1002/esp.3290170304


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