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ABSTRACT

Patches of sedimentary furrows are developed at several locations in the cohesive estuarine sediments of Southampton Water (water depth 1–12 m). These furrows apparently result from short periods of erosion followed by long periods of deposition. Although all the furrows are similar, regularly spaced, parallel troughs, 0.5–15 m wide aligned with the dominant current, furrows in different patches have different characteristics. In some areas furrow width is 1/5–1/15 of furrow spacing (termed ‘narrow’), whereas in other areas furrow width is about 1/2 of the spacing (termed ‘wide’). Narrow furrows have developed where sediment accumulation rates are greater than 3–6 cm yr−1; wide furrows where accumulation rates are lower. Cockle shells, and other coarse sediments, concentrated on the furrow floors and on floors of smaller (2–10 cm wide) minifurrows, play an important role in furrow formation and evolution as they act to widen the furrows when mobilized during current episodes. Uniform sedimentation across the profile during slack periods tends to narrow the furrow. Some of the larger furrows have remained in the same position for 12 years, while mini-furrows have duration scales of a few months or less. Well-developed furrows are also found in a recently dredged channel. Bedforms similar to those described here may be preserved in the sedimentary record. While no analogues to the larger furrows are presently known, minifurrows may be morphologically similar to the ‘gutter casts’ described from ancient rocks.