The evolution of embryonic creek systems in a recently inundated large open coast managed realignment site

Jonathan Dale, Heidi Burgess, Niall Burnside, Paul Kilkie, David Nash, Andrew Cundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Managed realignment (MR) schemes are being implemented to compensate for the degradation of coastal habitats. However, evidence suggests that MR sites have lower biodiversity than anticipated, which has been linked to poor drainage. Despite creek networks playing an important role in enhancing site drainage in natural intertidal environments, there remains a shortage of data on the formation and evolution of creeks within MR sites. This study evaluates creek development at the Medmerry Managed Realignment Site, UK. Creek development is investigated using differential global positioning system (dGPS) data, supported by sedimentological analyses and a high-resolution digital surface model (DSM) derived from images taken using a small unmanned aerial vehicle. Measurements indicated that creeks will develop relatively quickly, but are influenced by differences in the sub-surface sedimentological conditions. A suitable level of agreement was found between the DSM and dGPS measurements, demonstrating the appropriateness of this method to study creek development within intertidal environments at a higher resolution than traditional surveying techniques. These results are used to propose the collapse of sub-surface piping as the primary creek formation mechanism. Findings are discussed in terms of increasing the success of MR schemes and enhancing site design to maximise the ecosystem services provided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-33
Number of pages18
JournalAnthropocene Coasts
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2018

Bibliographical note

© Copyright remains with the author(s) or their institution(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


  • managed realignment
  • creeks, piping
  • small-unmanned aircraft system (sUAS)
  • structure-from-motion (SfM)


Dive into the research topics of 'The evolution of embryonic creek systems in a recently inundated large open coast managed realignment site'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this