General sketch-map of a tidal plain, showing the typical tripartition in supratidal
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. 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.
Tidal flats, along with intertidal salt marshes and mangrove forests, are important ecosystems. 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, mollusks and fish. 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.
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. 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.
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. Marshes are also the origins of coal/peat layers because of the abundant decaying plant life.
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.
Selected example areas
- Arcachon Bay, France
- Banc d'Arguin, Mauritania
- Great Rann of Kutch, India
- Belhaven, East Lothian Scotland, United Kingdom
- Bridgwater Bay and Morecambe Bay, United Kingdom
- Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, United States
- Cook Inlet, Alaska, United States
- Lindisfarne Island, England, United Kingdom
- Minas Basin, Nova Scotia, Canada
- Green Beach, Incheon, South Korea
- Padilla Bay, Washington, United States
- Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts, United States
- Port of Tacoma, Washington, United States
- Skagit Bay, Washington
- Snettisham Norfolk England, United Kingdom
- Wadden Sea: Netherlands, Germany, Denmark
- West coast of Andros Island, Bahamas
- Yellow Sea, China, Korea
- Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia
- ^ Dredging Indian River Lagoon Wetlands 1920 - 1950s
- ^ Tidal flat habitats
- ^ Mud crab (Scylla serrata) culture in tidal flats with existing mangroves
- ^ Manko - Tidal Flat, Mangrove Forest
- ^ 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
- ^ 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/
- ^ 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
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LA Magazine (blog)
LA Magazine (blog)
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:09:30 -0800
The swampy mudflat now known as Balboa Island was once part of Los Angeles County, though not good for too much—that is, until the enterprising McFadden brothers, James and Robert, bought it (along with much of the ocean front of Newport Beach) and ...
Sun, 22 Mar 2015 14:48:24 -0700
The singular motif in Mr Lee Kuan Yew's blueprint for this unlikely city-state's success was an unrelenting drive to be outstanding — and the visionary knew the most dramatic display of this, following independence, would be by swiftly metamorphosing ...
The Source Weekly
The Source Weekly
Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:11:15 -0700
"There could be something there that doesn't turn it into a mudflat. We can do a creative restoration, but it needs to be a restoration." He says that while he understands the argument for seeking private investment, he doesn't believe the ...
Tue, 24 Mar 2015 13:15:00 -0700
“At that time, we will also be conducting annual spring mudflat surveys, which in the past have demonstrated that the total area of mudflats remained above the minimum required by our license. “Brookfield Renewable is committed to understanding, ...
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Sun, 22 Mar 2015 20:08:05 -0700
On the surface, Lake Mendocino appears to have plenty of water, especially when compared with the near-record low levels that turned most of the lake into a mudflat last year. But the lake's water level already has begun a steady decline that has ...
East Brunswick Sentinel
Tue, 24 Mar 2015 17:00:00 -0700
In addition, 379.3 acres of Common Reed wetlands would be restored to wetlands forest, upland forest, low emergent marsh, mudflat and open water. If the project moves forward, Carr said he sees nothing but positive impacts for the borough. Currently ...
Sun, 22 Mar 2015 04:03:45 -0700
The dam's removal likely would include removing sediment and restoring the pond area, which would initially dry out and become a mudflat. Woodard has said the city has looked at floodplain models to estimate the impact on river levels if the Monterey ...
Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:37:30 -0700
While local companies have been mourning the loss of Singapore's founding PM Lee Kuan Yew, several global companies with a presence locally have also greyscaled their logos on social media to pay respect. Here are some global companies that have ...
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