Advertisement

The Mont-Saint-Michel Bay: An Exceptional Megatidal Environment Influenced by Natural Evolution and Man-Made Modifications

  • Chantal Bonnot-CourtoisEmail author
  • Anne-Véronique Walter-Simonnet
  • Agnès Baltzer
Chapter
Part of the World Geomorphological Landscapes book series (WGLC)

Abstract

Due to its exceptional tidal range and the immensity of its tidal flat, the Mont-Saint-Michel bay is a favored model for research on coastal hydro-sedimentary processes, reconstruction of the depositional wedge during the Holocene, and landscape evolution. The western tidal flat consists of a large muddy to sandy embayment, whereas the eastern intertidal domain consists of estuarine deposits characterized by finely laminated muddy sand, enriched in biogenic carbonate. The present-day morphology and sedimentary dynamics are the result of a complex balance between tide-dominated sediment supply and erosive processes under wave action and tidal channels migration. The bay has been filled for thousands of years to the rhythm of sea level oscillations, leading to the gradual progradation of the shoreline. In addition to this natural evolution, human activities have developed in the bay, both on the western tidal flat (fixed fisheries and shellfish farming) and on the eastern estuarine side (polder formation, dikes, and dam construction), and have progressively changed the landscapes. In 1884, Victor Hugo issued an appeal for the protection of the Mont-Saint-Michel in these terms: “The Mont-Saint-Michel is to France what the Great Pyramid is to Egypt. It must be protected from any damage. The Mont-Saint-Michel must remain an island. This combined work of nature and art must be conserved at all costs.” Since that time, salt marshes have progressed, the land reclamation and man-made developments to facilitate the access to the mount also continued, so the maritime character of Mont is still endangered.

Keywords

Mont-Saint-Michel bay Sedimentary dynamics Man-made modifications Recent evolution 

Notes

Acknowledgments

 The authors are very grateful to B. Caline (Total), B. Tessier (Caen University), and R. Desguée (Syndicat Mixte Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel) for their work, their help, and scientific discussions in the bay over the years. They also wish to thank P. Bretel (Caen University), A. Mauxion, and A. Humbert for the aerial photographs of the bay.

References (Non-comprehensive List)

  1. Billeaud I (2007) Dynamique de construction d’un prisme sédimentaire littoral en régime mégatidal (la Baie du Mont Saint-Michel). Thesis, University of Caen, pp 239Google Scholar
  2. Bonnot-Courtois C (2012) A tribute to A. L’homer(†), Dynamique sédimentaire intertidale en baie du Mont Saint-Michel entre évolution naturelle et aménagements. XIIèmes Journées Nationales Génie Civil Génie Côtier, Cherbourg, pp 187–222. doi: 10.5150/jngcgc.2012.021-B, http://www.paralia.fr
  3. Bonnot-Courtois C, Levasseur JE (2000) Etudes en Environnement. Volume 5. Contribution à la connaissance de la dynamique des herbus. Final Report of the Joint Initiative for Restoring the Marine Character of Mont-Saint-Michel. Mission Mont-Saint-Michel, Manche Department Infrastructure Directorate (DDE). Univ. Rennes 1, CRI 8586 Prodig CNRS, 196 pGoogle Scholar
  4. Bonnot-Courtois C, Caline B, L’homer A, Le Vot M (ed) (2002) La baie du Mont-Saint-Michel et l’estuaire de la Rance. Environnements sédimentaires, aménagements et évolution récente. The bay of Mont-Saint-Michel and the Rance estuary. Recent development and evolution of depositional environments. Bull. Cent. Rech. Elf-Explor. Prod., Mémoire 26, Total Fina Elf-CNRS-EPHE, pp 164–176Google Scholar
  5. Bonnot-Courtois C, Maze JP, Le Vot M, Augris C, Ehrhold A, Simplet L, Blanchard M (2009) Carte morpho-sédimentaire de la baie du Mont Saint-Michel (Ille-et-Vilaine & Manche) échelle 1:25,000, ed. Quae – IfremerGoogle Scholar
  6. Desguée R (2012) Technical notes. Suivi de l’efficacité du Barrage. Syndicat Mixte Baie du Mont Saint Michel. La Baie 29:6–7Google Scholar
  7. Fairbancks RG (1989) A 17,000 year glacio-eustatic sea-level record influence of glacial melting rates on the Younger Dryas event and deep-ocean circulation. Nature 342:637–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. L’homer A, Piquois C (2002) Mont Saint-Michel bay Les anciennes salines. Siloë, Laval, 175 pGoogle Scholar
  9. L’homer A, Caline B, Bonnot-Courtois C (1995) Intérêt archéologique des bancs coquilliers du secteur occidental de la baie du Mont Saint-Michel. In: Baie du Mont Saint-Michel et Marais de Dol. Milieux naturels et peuplements dans le passé. Langouet & Morzadec-Kerfourn Dir. Les Dossiers du Ce.R.A.A. Suppl. 1995 n° R, pp 47–65Google Scholar
  10. L’homer A, Courbouleix S, Chantraine J, Deroin JP (1999) With the cooperation of Bonnot-Courtois C, Caline B, Ehrhold A, Lautridou J-P, Morzadec-Kerfourn MT (1999) Carte géologique de la France (1:50,000), feuille Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel, (208), Orléans, BRGM. Notice explicative, 183 pGoogle Scholar
  11. L’homer A, Bonnot-Courtois C, Casset M, Levalet D, Nicolas-Mery D, Syndicat Mixte Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel (2009) Evolution de la baie autour du Mont depuis 708. Exposition pour le 13ème centenaire du Mont-Saint-Michel. 8 Panneaux. Syndicat Mixte, ArdevonGoogle Scholar
  12. Lambeck K (1997) Sea-level change along the French Atlantic and Channel coasts since the time of the Last Glacial Maximum. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 129:1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Larsonneur C & coll. (1989) La baie du Mont-Saint-Michel: un modèle de sédimentation en zone tempérée. Bull Inst Geol. Bassin Aquitaine 46:1–75Google Scholar
  14. Lefeuvre JC, Mouton JP, Mauxion A (2009) L’histoire de la baie du Mont Saint-Michel et de son abbaye. Editions Ouest-France, 287 pGoogle Scholar
  15. Migniot C (1998) Rétablissement du caractère maritime du Mont-Saint-Michel. Synthèse des connaissances hydro-sédimentaires de la baie. Mission Mont-Saint-Michel, Manche Department Infrastucture Directorate (DDE), 111 pGoogle Scholar
  16. Morzadec-Kerfourn MT (2002) La sédimentation holocène dans la partie occidentale de la baie du Mont-Saint-Michel: l’évolution du marais de Dol de Bretagne. In Bonnot-Courtois C, Caline B, L’Homer A, Le Vot M (dir) La baie du Mont- Saint-Michel et l’estuaire de la Rance. Environnements sédimentaires, aménagements et évolution récente. Bull Cent Rech Elf-Explor Prod, Mémoire 26, Total Fina Elf-CNRS-EPHE, pp 153–163Google Scholar
  17. Syndicat Mixte Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel. Rétablissement du Caractère Maritime. http://www.projetmontsaintmichel.fr
  18. Tessier B, Billeaud I, Lesueur P (2006) The Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel northeastern littoral : an illustrative case of coastal sedimentary body evolution and stratigraphic organization in a transgressive/highstand context. BullSoc Geol Fr, t. 177(2):71–78Google Scholar
  19. Tessier B, Bonnot-Courtois C, Billeaud I, Weill P, Caline B, Furgerot L (2012) The Mont Saint-Michel ba (NW France). Facies, sequences and evolution of a macrotidal embayment and estuarine environment. TIDALITES 2012 8th international conference on tidal environments. Field Trip Book Publ. ASF, n 72, 46pGoogle Scholar
  20. Weill P (2010) Formation et évolution de cheniers en contexte macrotidal. Approches expérimentales et in situ. Thesis, University of Caen, p 230 + AppendicesGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chantal Bonnot-Courtois
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anne-Véronique Walter-Simonnet
    • 2
  • Agnès Baltzer
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Géomorphologie et Environnement littoralCNRS, UMR 8586 PRODIGDinardFrance
  2. 2.UMR 6249 Chrono-EnvironnementUniversité de Franche ComtéBesançonFrance
  3. 3.Géosciences MarinesIfremer BrestPlouzanéFrance

Personalised recommendations