Open-Coast Intertidal Deposits and the Preservation Potential of Individual Laminae: A Case Study from East-Central China

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preservation potential, sedimentary structures, sedimentation rate, storm deposits, tidal-flat deposits, Yangtze delta

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Monitoring of sedimentation and erosion was conducted on an open coastal tidal flat on the southern flank of the Yangtze delta. Various elevation references were established in the intertidal zone and monitored intensively for 4 months in order to examine fortnightly and seasonal (calm weather and storm season) sedimentation and erosion. Longer term (100 years) sedimentation and preservation were investigated through examination of cores and trenches. Two different vertical grouping patterns of tidal bedding were distinguished with thinner and thicker sandy laminae. The number of sand-dominated layers and individual muddy and sandy lamina in the cores were compared with theoretically derived sedimentation rates in order to assess long-term preservation potential. Waves, especially high storm waves, have a significant influence on sedimentation and the preservation of intertidal deposits along the open-coast tidal flat. Monitoring during one season indicated that the sand-dominated layer was directly related to storm deposits, while the mud-dominated layer was deposited during calm weather conditions. The variation in sandy lamina thickness was not related to spring–neap tidal cycles during the monitoring period. The assumption of 100% preservation of sandy laminae deposited during every tidal cycle, which has been assumed in previous time-series analyses for the identification of palaeotidal periodicity, was found to be unrealistic along this open-coast tidal flat. Preservation potential decreases as temporal scale increases. During one neap–spring tidal cycle, the preservation potential of individual sandy and muddy laminae was of the order of 10%. Over a period of 100 years, the estimated preservation potential of individual laminae, including both calm weather and storm deposits, decreased to 0·2%. The 100-year preservation potential of storm-induced, sand-dominated layers was estimated to be of the order of 10%.

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Sedimentology, v. 47, issue 5, p. 1039-1051