The estuaries of the UK have significant economic and ecological value. With evidence of both erosion and accumulation of the intertidal areas, there is a great need to understand how these systems will evolve under the pressures of a changing environment.
The physical, biological and geochemical properties of estuarine intertidal sediments are an important factor in sediment stability, with numerous properties and processes affecting sediment cohesion and erosion. Geochemical properties of estuarine intertidal sediments have received very little focus, in particular the effects of clay mineralogy, which is largely known to influence soil erodibilty.
Characteristic properties of clay minerals vary between the different clay groups. These variances are recognised as being a significant factor in erosion resistance, with differing thresholds suggested for each group. The clay mineral groups present within estuarine sediments can vary between locations and are intrinsically linked to the surrounding geological catchment of the location. Intertidal sediments can also display differences in spatial distribution of clay mineral suites within single sites due to complex estuarine processes.
This research aims to establish if variances in the clay mineral composition of intertidal sediments in the estuaries of the UK are influencing erosion. This will be determined by geochemical analysis and in situ measurement of erosion thresholds of intertidal sediments. The outcomes from this study will assist with the future research and management practices for these systems.
Other similar projects include Pagham harbour and Medmerrry Nature Reserve