digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















General sketch-map of a tidal plain, showing the typical tripartition in supratidal, intertidal and subtidal zones. The most apparent character of the area is the development of tidal channels, affecting mainly the intertidal zone. In this case, the tidal flat is protected seaward by a beach barrier, but in many cases (low-energy waves and longshore currents) the tidal flats may directly pass into a shallow marine environment.

Mudflats or mud flats, also known as tidal flats, are coastal wetlands that form when mud is deposited by tides or rivers. They are found in sheltered areas such as bays, bayous, lagoons, and estuaries. Mudflats may be viewed geologically as exposed layers of bay mud, resulting from deposition of estuarine silts, clays and marine animal detritus. Most of the sediment within a mudflat is within the intertidal zone, and thus the flat is submerged and exposed approximately twice daily.

In the past tidal flats were considered unhealthy, economically unimportant areas and were often dredged and developed into agricultural land.[1] Several especially shallow mudflat areas, such as the Wadden Sea, are now popular among those practising the sport of mudflat hiking.

On the Baltic Sea coast of Germany in places, mudflats are exposed not by tidal action, but by wind-action driving water away from the shallows into the sea. These wind-affected mudflats are called windwatts in German.


Mudflats near Oban on Stewart Island, New Zealand

Tidal flats, along with intertidal salt marshes and mangrove forests, are important ecosystems.[2] They usually support a large population of wildlife, and are a key habitat that allows tens of millions of migratory shorebirds to migrate from breeding sites in the northern hemisphere to non-breeding areas in the southern hemisphere. They are often of vital importance to migratory birds, as well as certain species of crabs,[3] mollusks and fish.[4] In the United Kingdom mudflats have been classified as a Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitat.

The maintenance of mudflats is important in preventing coastal erosion. However, mudflats worldwide are under threat from predicted sea level rises, land claims for development, dredging due to shipping purposes, and chemical pollution. In some parts of the world, such as East and South-East Asia, mudflats have been reclaimed for aquaculture, agriculture, and industrial development. For example, around the Yellow Sea region of East Asia, more than 65% of mudflats have been destroyed over the past 50 years.[5][6]


Mudflat sediment deposits are focused into the intertidal zone which is composed of a barren zone, marsh and salt pan. Within these areas are various ratios of sand and mud that make up the sedimentary layers.[7] The associated growth of coastal sediment deposits can be attributed to rates of subsidence along with rates of deposition (example: silt transported via river) and changes in sea level.[7]

Barren zones extend from the lowest portion of the intertidal zone to the marsh areas. Beginning in close proximity to the tidal bars, sand dominated layers are prominent and become increasingly muddy throughout the tidal channels. Common bedding types include laminated sand, ripple bedding, and bay mud. Bioturbation also has a strong presence in barren zones.

Marshes contain an abundance of herbaceous plants while the sediment layers consist of thin sand and mud layers. Mudcracks are a common as well as wavy bedding planes.[7] Marshes are also the origins of coal/peat layers because of the abundant decaying plant life.[7]

Salt pans can be distinguished in that they contain thinly laminated layers of clayey silt. The main source of the silt comes from rivers. Dried up mud along with wind erosion forms silt dunes. When flooding, rain or tides come in, the dried sediment is then re-distributed.[7]

Selected example areas[edit]

Mudflats in Brewster, Massachusetts, United States, extending hundreds of yards offshore at the low tide. The line of seashells in the foreground indicates the high-water mark.
Gulls feeding on mudflats in Skagit Bay, Washington.


  1. ^ Dredging Indian River Lagoon Wetlands 1920 - 1950s
  2. ^ Tidal flat habitats
  3. ^ Mud crab (Scylla serrata) culture in tidal flats with existing mangroves
  4. ^ Manko - Tidal Flat, Mangrove Forest
  5. ^ MacKinnon, J.; Verkuil, Y.I.; Murray, N.J. (2012), IUCN situation analysis on East and Southeast Asian intertidal habitats, with particular reference to the Yellow Sea (including the Bohai Sea), Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission No. 47, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN, p. 70, ISBN 9782831712550 
  6. ^ Murray, N.J.; Clemens, R.S.; Phinn, S.R.; Possingham, H.P.; Fuller, R.A. (2014), "Tracking the rapid loss of tidal wetlands in the Yellow Sea", Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12 (5): 267–272, doi:10.1890/130260 /
  7. ^ a b c d e Reineck, H.E, and I.B Singh, Deposistional Sedimentary Environments, 2nd Ed. New York: Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 1980, pp. 418-428

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudflat — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

1105 news items

Field and Stream
Thu, 03 Sep 2015 08:22:03 -0700

The flock alit with what must've been a thousand more ducks standing on the mudflat. It was a veritable bluewing buffet. As a river-fed reservoir recedes after a long, dry summer, mud shorelines are exposed, and they're teeming with vegetation, seeds ...


Wed, 02 Sep 2015 22:11:54 -0700

... but it has the authority to regulate the streams, ditches, gullies, swamps and even seasonal waters that potentially feed into any navigable waterway—plus 4,000 feet of land in any direction from any such culvert, wash, arroyo, mudflat or seasonal ...
Wicked Local Sandwich
Wed, 02 Sep 2015 10:47:22 -0700

Mudflat Mania Explore life on and below the Brewster sand flats with a guide, 9:30 a.m., Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, 869 Route 6A, Brewster, $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children for members; $7 adults, $6 seniors, $5 children for non-members, ...

Tahoe Daily Tribune

Tahoe Daily Tribune
Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:56:15 -0700

They cite some pseudo-scientific studies attempting to justify removal of the pond, which has been in existence for well over 50 years serving as a catch basin for silt and debris, and turn the area into a “mudflat” — which would be better defined as ...

WRVO Public Media

WRVO Public Media
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 03:41:15 -0700

This area is a manmade wetland. It was created decades ago to preserve habitat that was quickly disappearing because of encroaching agriculture and development. We look onto the bottom of the pool. It's now a long stretch of brown mudflat. “You can see ...


Wed, 02 Sep 2015 08:56:15 -0700

At low tide, vast areas of mud flats are revealed, and the area is named after them – the Dutch word for mudflat is wad. Solar Parka by Pauline van Dongen. The coastline has been heavily altered over centuries by human interventions including dykes and ...

Stoke Sentinel

Stoke Sentinel
Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:26:15 -0700

Indeed, it would eventually be music that lifted Baker from these surroundings, as he found a niche as a writer on the New Musical Express. A man who lost his virginity in a derelict house on a mudflat was never going to fit in on Radio 3. Cradle To ...

Deutsche Welle

Deutsche Welle
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 03:22:27 -0700

There are around 200,000 kilometers of hiking trails in Germany. Whether they follow a river, pass through flowering fields or scale steep peaks - there's something for every hiker in DW's list of top 10 walks. Bildergalerie Wandern in Deutschland ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight