Detecting the Morphology of Prograding and Retreating Marsh Margins—Example of a Mega-Tidal Bay

Guillaume C. H. Goodwin, Simon M. Mudd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Retreat and progradation make the edges of salt marsh platforms their most active features. If we have a single topographic snapshot of a marsh, is it possible to tell if some areas have retreated or prograded recently or if they are likely to do so in the future? We explore these questions by characterising marsh edge topography in mega-tidal Moricambe Bay (UK) in 2009, 2013 and 2017. We first map outlines of marsh platform edges based on lidar data and from these we generate transverse topographic profiles of the marsh edge 10 m long and 20 m apart. By associating profiles with individual retreat or progradation events, we find that they produce distinct profiles when grouped by change event, regardless of event magnitude. Progradation profiles have a shallow scarp and low relief that decreases with event magnitude, facilitating more progradation. Conversely, steep-scarped, high-relief retreat profiles dip landward as retreat reveals older platforms. Furthermore, vertical accretion of the marsh edge is controlled by elevation rather than its lateral motion, suggesting an even distribution of deposition that would allow bay infilling were it not limited by the migration of creeks. While we demonstrate that marsh edges can be quantified with currently available DTMs, oblique observations are crucial to fully describe scarps and better inform their sensitivity to wave and current erosion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2019

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