Sedimentation rhythms and hydrodynamics in two engineered environments in an open coast managed realignment site

Jonathan Dale, Heidi Burgess, Cundy Andrew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Managed Realignment (MR) schemes are considered by many coastal managers and engineers to be a preferable method of coastal flood defence and compensating for habitat loss, by creating new areas of intertidal saltmarsh and mudflat habitat. Monitoring of MR sites has tended to focus on short term ecological factors, resulting in a shortage of high frequency, high resolution long term measurements of the evolution of the sediment erosion, transportation, deposition and consolidation cycle (ETDC) in newly breached sites. This is particularly true of analysis of the formation and preservation of sedimentary rhythmites and evaluations of sedimentation rates (and their variability) in newly inundated intertidal environments. This study provides an evaluation of sedimentation rhythms and hydrodynamics from two contrasting sites within the Medmerry Managed Realignment scheme, the largest open coast realignment in Europe (at the time of site inundation). Bed sediment altimeter data highlighted different sedimentation patterns at the two sites; near constant deposition of sediment occurred near the breach resulting in 15.2cm of sediment being accreted over the one year monitoring period, whereas periodic accretion and erosion of sediment occurred inland leading to 2.7cm of net accretion. Differences in the relationship between suspended sediment concentrations and site hydrodynamics were observed on a semi-diurnal to annual scale. This study highlights the need for further consideration of the sedimentation processes in MR schemes in order to enhance the design and construction of these sites. Advancements in the understanding of these processes will increase the success of MR schemes in terms of the evolution of the sediment regime and the ecosystem services provided, particularly as they are more widely accepted as a form of coastal flood defence and intertidal habitat creation method.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-131
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Geology
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license


  • Managed realignment
  • Rhythmites
  • Altimeter
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Suspended sediment concentration (SSC)
  • Intertidal mudflat morphology


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