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The geomorphology of UK estuaries: The role of geological controls, antecedent conditions and human activities

The geomorphology of UK estuaries: The role of geological controls, antecedent conditions and human activities
The geomorphology of UK estuaries: The role of geological controls, antecedent conditions and human activities
This paper provides an overview of the geomorphological characteristics of UK estuaries and the factors which control them. Many of the features included in previous classifications of UK estuaries are not true estuaries since they do not possess significant river influence. The features considered in this paper to be ‘true’ estuaries are divided into ‘restricted entrance’ and ‘unrestricted entrance’ types on the grounds that the size and geometry of the estuary mouth exerts a critical influence on water levels, tidal currents, wave action, sediment transport and morphological evolution. An estuary which has a wide mouth, narrows and becomes shallower towards the head is likely to be flood dominated, especially if it has a large tidal range, whereas an estuary which has a narrow mouth and widens and/or becomes deeper towards the head is more likely to display ebb dominance, especially if it has a relatively small tidal range. Wide-mouthed estuaries are influenced to a greater degree by wave processes than estuaries with a narrow mouth. Previous authors have hypothesised that estuaries may maintain a state of dynamic equilibrium through alternating periods of flood and ebb dominance, but it is concluded that there is presently no substantive evidence to support this hypothesis. UK estuaries have been affected to varying degrees by embanking, land claim, dredging, sea wall breaching and managed realignment. Some estuaries have adjusted quickly to such perturbations, but others continue to show progressive change, either sedimentary infilling or erosion and sediment loss. The quantification of estuary morphometry, identification of change over time, and testing of hypotheses regarding the morphodynamics and stability of estuaries requires adequate bathymetric/topographic, hydrodynamic and sediment data. At present, such data are available for relatively few UK estuaries.
geomorphology, morphometry, estuaries, geological controls, human activities
0272-7714
196-214
Pye, Kenneth
06d9148b-f457-4548-9d58-28e48cfde453
Blott, Simon J.
6bc01996-7222-4fab-89b9-57b4bb2a7312
Pye, Kenneth
06d9148b-f457-4548-9d58-28e48cfde453
Blott, Simon J.
6bc01996-7222-4fab-89b9-57b4bb2a7312

Pye, Kenneth and Blott, Simon J. (2014) The geomorphology of UK estuaries: The role of geological controls, antecedent conditions and human activities. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 150, 196-214. (doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2014.05.014).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the geomorphological characteristics of UK estuaries and the factors which control them. Many of the features included in previous classifications of UK estuaries are not true estuaries since they do not possess significant river influence. The features considered in this paper to be ‘true’ estuaries are divided into ‘restricted entrance’ and ‘unrestricted entrance’ types on the grounds that the size and geometry of the estuary mouth exerts a critical influence on water levels, tidal currents, wave action, sediment transport and morphological evolution. An estuary which has a wide mouth, narrows and becomes shallower towards the head is likely to be flood dominated, especially if it has a large tidal range, whereas an estuary which has a narrow mouth and widens and/or becomes deeper towards the head is more likely to display ebb dominance, especially if it has a relatively small tidal range. Wide-mouthed estuaries are influenced to a greater degree by wave processes than estuaries with a narrow mouth. Previous authors have hypothesised that estuaries may maintain a state of dynamic equilibrium through alternating periods of flood and ebb dominance, but it is concluded that there is presently no substantive evidence to support this hypothesis. UK estuaries have been affected to varying degrees by embanking, land claim, dredging, sea wall breaching and managed realignment. Some estuaries have adjusted quickly to such perturbations, but others continue to show progressive change, either sedimentary infilling or erosion and sediment loss. The quantification of estuary morphometry, identification of change over time, and testing of hypotheses regarding the morphodynamics and stability of estuaries requires adequate bathymetric/topographic, hydrodynamic and sediment data. At present, such data are available for relatively few UK estuaries.

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More information

Published date: 5 October 2014
Keywords: geomorphology, morphometry, estuaries, geological controls, human activities
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 373265
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/373265
ISSN: 0272-7714
PURE UUID: 0d0432de-7ac5-4e4a-a927-6df2199c82b9

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Date deposited: 12 Jan 2015 15:31
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 21:33

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Author: Kenneth Pye
Author: Simon J. Blott

University divisions

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