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Keywords:

  • Sediments fluxes;
  • waves;
  • tide;
  • tidal channels;
  • chenier plains;
  • muddy coastline

Abstract

Tidal channels are ubiquitous in muddy coastlines and play a critical role in the redistribution of sediments, thus dictating the general evolution of intertidal landforms. In muddy coastlines, the morphology of tidal channels and adjacent marshes strongly depends on the supply of fine sediments from the shelf and on the resuspension of sediments by wind waves. To investigate the processes that regulate sediment fluxes in muddy coastlines, we measured tidal velocity and sediment concentration in Little Constance Bayou, a tidal channel in the Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana, USA. The tidal measurements were integrated with measurements of wave activity in the bay at the mouth of the channel, thus allowing the quantification of feedbacks between waves and sediment fluxes. Results indicate that the sediment concentration in the channel is directly related to the wave height in the adjacent bay during flood and high slack water, whereas the concentration during ebb depends on local channel velocity. Moreover, the sediment flux during ebb is of the same order of magnitude as the sediment flux during the previous flood, indicating that only a small fraction of transported sediments are stored in the marsh during a tidal cycle. Finally, very low tides, characterized by high ebb velocities, export large volumes of sediment to the ocean. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.