Sedimentary response of Pagham Harbour, southern England to barrier breaching in AD 1910

Andrew Cundy, A.J. Long, C.T. Hill, C. Spencer, I.W. Croudace

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper examines the evolution of Pagham Harbour, southern England following storm-induced breaching of a protective barrier in AD 1910. Stratigraphic studies of sediments collected from intertidal areas show the presence of a distinct stratigraphic horizon in the northeast of Pagham Harbour at ca. 0 to +1.0 m ordnance datum (OD). Radiometric data indicate that this horizon is a ‘reclamation surface’ formed after land claim in AD 1846. Following marine flooding in AD 1910, sediment has accreted relatively rapidly (at a broadly constant rate of between 4 and 8 mm a−1), wave and/or tidal energy have decreased and extensive marshes have developed. An asymptotic reduction in sediment accretion rate through time, as predicted in various theoretical models of salt marsh accretion, is not observed. Over the entire Pagham Harbour area, the period between AD 1948 and AD 1986 has seen an average marsh loss of 0.0087 km2 a−1, which is relatively small in comparison with other more exposed sites in the local area. Historically breached sites such as Pagham Harbour are common around European coasts, and these provide important natural laboratories within which the medium-term (decadal to centennial) coastal response to barrier breaching, and to managed-realignment coastal protection schemes, can be assessed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)163-176
    Number of pages14
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2002


    • Sea-level rise
    • Diatoms
    • Barrier breaching
    • Salt marshes
    • Coastal management


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