Advertisement

Geology and Sedimentary History of Modern Estuaries

  • C. Gregory Skilbeck
  • Andrew D. Heap
  • Colin D. Woodroffe
Chapter
Part of the Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research book series (DPER, volume 20)

Abstract

Modern estuaries are part of a continuum of coastal depositional environments within which the variation in geomorphology is closely related to the dominant one of three main processes affecting sedimentation, viz waves, tides or rivers. The present location of the coast is controlled by sea-level rise brought about by the release of water from continental ice sheets following the glacial maximum around 20,000 years ago. The current form of the coast is partly inherited from the shape of the precedent land surface flooded by the rising sea, which is then modified by a combination of ongoing local erosion and/or deposition of sediment transported by rivers from the adjacent land mass or submarine erosion, and then redistributed by the locally dominant marine processes. Once eustatic sea level stabilised around 6–7000 years ago, sediment was able to progressively infill the topographically lower areas, except in areas where glacial rebound is ongoing. In some cases, where the rate of sedimentation is relatively high, infill of coastal indentations may have been completed, and the coast is now prograding seaward. Elsewhere, where sedimentation rates are lower, or waves and tides are able to effectively move sediment away from the point of river entry, infill may have only partially proceeded, and the coast has been modified into characteristic forms. Where waves dominate over tides, features made from coarse-grained sediments such as barriers, beaches and bars, form parallel to the general trend of the coast. These establish less-energetic environments isolated from the full force of the ocean, where fine-grained sediments can accumulate. Where tidal forces are relatively dominant, the coarser-grained bars tend to orient at right angles to the coast, and fine-grained sediments accumulate in the intertidal areas as mud flats, and marshes.

Keywords

Estuary Geology Waves Tides Rivers Sediment 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Andrew D. Heap publishes with permission of the Chief Executive Officer, Geoscience Australia. We thank K. Saunders and P. Gell, and two anonymous referees for feedback which enhanced the manuscript.

References

  1. Allen GP, Posamentier HW (1993) Sequence stratigraphy and facies model of an incised valley fill: the Gironde Estuary, France. J Sediment Petrol 63:378–391Google Scholar
  2. Aucan J, Ridd PV (2000) Tidal asymmetry in creeks surrounded by saltflats and mangroves with small swamp slopes. Wetl Ecol Manag 8:223–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barwis JH, Hayes MO (1979) Regional patterns of modern barrier and tidal inlet deposits as applied to paleoenvironmental studies. In: Ferm JC, Horne JC (eds) Carboniferous depositional environments in the Appalachian region. University of South Carolina, Columbia, pp 472–498Google Scholar
  4. Bell JD, Edwards AR (1980) An inventory of estuaries and coastal lagoons in New South Wales. Total Environment Centre, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  5. Betts PG, Giles D, Lister GS et al (2002) Evolution of the Australian lithosphere. Aust J Earth Sci 49:661–698CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boyd R, Dalrymple RW, Zaitlin BZ (1992) Classification of clastic coastal depositional environments. Sediment Geol 80:139–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bryce S, Larcombe P, Ridd PV (1998) The relative importance of landward-directed tidal sediment transport versus freshwater flood events in the Normanby River estuary, Cape York Peninsula, Australia. Mar Geol 149:55–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bucher D, Saenger P (1990) An inventory of Australian estuaries and enclosed marine waters: an overview of results. Aust Geogr Stud 28:370–381Google Scholar
  9. Bucher D, Saenger P (1994) A classification of tropical and subtropical Australian estuaries. Aquat Conserv 4(1):1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chappell J, Woodroffe CD (1994) Macrotidal estuaries. In: Carter RWG, Woodroffe CD (eds) Coastal evolution: Late Quaternary shoreline morphodynamics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 187–218Google Scholar
  11. Cooper JAG (1993) Sedimentation in a river dominated estuary. Sedimentology 40:979–1017CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cooper JAG, Ramm AEL, Harrison TD (1994) The Estuarine Health Index: a new approach to scientific information transfer. Ocean Coast Manage 25:103–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dalrymple RW, Choi K (2007) Morphologic and facies trends through the fluvial-marine transition in tide-dominated depositional systems: a schematic framework for environmental and sequence-stratigraphic interpretation. Earth-Sci Rev 81:135–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dalrymple RW, Zaitlin BZ, Boyd R (1992) Estuarine facies models: conceptual basis and stratigraphic implications. J Sediment Petrol 62:1130–1146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dashtgard SE, Venditti JG, Hill PR et al (2012) Sedimentation across the tidal-fluvial transition in the lower Fraser River, Canada. Sediment Rec 10(4):4–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davies JL (1964) A morphogenic approach to world shorelines. Z Geomorphol 8:127–142Google Scholar
  17. Day JH (ed) (1981) Estuarine ecology: with special reference to South Africa. Balkema, Rotterdam, p 411Google Scholar
  18. Digby MJ, Ferguson AJP (1996) A physical classification of Australian estuaries. Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation, Canberra, 47 ppGoogle Scholar
  19. Digby MJ, Saenger P, Whelan MB et al (1998) A physical classification of Australian estuaries. Urban Water Research Association of Australia, Centre for Coastal Management, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSWGoogle Scholar
  20. Drew S, Flett I, Heijnis H et al (2008) The trophic history of Myall Lakes, New South Wales, Australia—interpretations using δ13C and δ15N of the sedimentary record. Hydrobiologia 608:35–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Edgar GJ, Barrett NS, Graddon DJ et al (2000) The conservation significance of estuaries: a classification of Tasmanian estuaries using ecological, physical and demographic attributes as a case study. Biol Conserv 92:383–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Eyre B (1998) Transport, retention and transformation of material in Australian estuaries. Estuaries 21:540–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Eyre B, Balls P (1999) A comparative study of nutrient behaviour along the salinity gradient of tropical and temperate estuaries. Estuaries 22:313–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fairbridge RW (1980) The estuary: its definition and geodynamic cycle. In: Olausson E, Cato I (eds) Chemistry and biogeochemistry of estuaries. Wiley, New York, pp 1–36Google Scholar
  25. Finlayson BL, McMahon TA (1988) Australia v the world: a comparative analysis of streamflow characteristics. In: Warner R (ed) Fluvial geomorphology of Australia. Academic, Sydney, pp 17–40Google Scholar
  26. Galloway WE (1975) Process framework for describing the morphologic and stratigraphic evolution of deltaic depositional systems. In: Broussard ML (ed) Deltas: models for exploration. Houston Geological Society, Houston, pp 87–98Google Scholar
  27. Harris PT (1988) Large-scale bedforms as indicators of mutually evasive sand transport and the sequential infilling of wide-mouthed estuaries. Sediment Geol 47:273–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harris PT (1995) Marine geology and sedimentology of the Australian continental shelf. In: Zann LP, Kailola P (eds) The state of the marine environment report for Australia. Technical annex 1: the marine environment. Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, Canberra, pp 11–23Google Scholar
  29. Harris PT, Heap AD (2003) Environmental management of clastic coastal depositional environments: inferences from an Australian geomorphic database. Ocean Coast Manage 46:457–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Harris PT, Heap AD, Bryce SM et al (2002) Classification of Australian clastic coastal depositional environments based on a quantitative analysis of wave, tide and river power. J Sediment Res 72:858–870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hasselmann K, WAMDI Group (1988) The WAM model—a third generation ocean wave prediction model. J Phys Oceanogr 18:1775–1810CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hayes MO (1975) Morphology of sand accumulations in estuaries. In: Cronin LE (ed) Estuarine research, vol 2. Academic, New York, pp 3–22Google Scholar
  33. Heap AD, Nichol SL (1997) The influence of limited accommodation space on the stratigraphy of an incised-valley succession: Weiti River Estuary, New Zealand. Mar Geol 144:229–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Heap AD, Bryce S, Ryan DA, et al (2001) Australian estuaries and coastal waterways: a geoscience perspective for improved and integrated resource management. AGSO Record 2001/07. AGSO—Geoscience Australia, Canberra, 118 pGoogle Scholar
  35. Heap AD, Bryce S, Ryan DA (2004) Facies evolution of Holocene estuaries and deltas: a large-sample statistical study from Australia. Sediment Geol 168:1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Heggie DT, Skyring GW, Berelson WE et al (1999) Sediment-water interaction in Australian coastal environments: implications for water and sediment quality. J Aust Geol Geophys 17:159–173Google Scholar
  37. Hodgkin EP (1994) Estuaries and coastal lagoons. In: Hammond LS, Synnot RN (eds) Marine biology. Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, pp 315–332Google Scholar
  38. House MA, Newsome DH (1989) Water quality indices for the management of surface water quality. Water Sci Technol 21:1137–1148Google Scholar
  39. Hutchings P, Saenger P (1987) Ecology of mangroves. University of Queensland Press, QueenslandGoogle Scholar
  40. Jennings JN, Bird ECF (1967) Regional geomorphological characteristics of some Australian estuaries. In: Lauff GH (ed) Estuaries. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC, pp 121–128Google Scholar
  41. Jervey MT (1988) Quantitative geological modelling of siliciclastic rock sequences and their seismic expressions. In: Wilgus CK, Hastings BS Kendall CGStC, et al (eds) Sea level changes: an integrated approach, vol 42. Soc Econ PA, pp 47–69Google Scholar
  42. Jones BG, Woodroffe CD, Martin G (2003) Deltas in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia: forms, processes and products. In: Sidi FH, Nummedal D, Imbert P, et al (eds) Tropical deltas of southeast Asia: sedimentology, stratigraphy, and petroleum geology. Soc Econ PA, pp 21–43Google Scholar
  43. Kench P (1999) Geomorphology of Australian estuaries: a review and prospect. Aust J Ecol 24:367–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kennedy D, Paulik R (2007) Estuarine shore platforms in Whanganui Inlet, South Island, New Zealand. Geomorphology 88:214–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kennedy DM, Paulik R, Millar M (2008) Infill of a structurally controlled estuary: an example from southern Whanganui Inlet, New Zealand. New Zeal Geogr 64:20–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lessa GC (2000) Morphodynamic controls on tides and tidal currents in two macrotidal shallow estuaries, NE Australia. J Coast Res 16:976–989Google Scholar
  47. Lewis SE, Sloss CR, Murray-Wallace CV et al (2013) Post- glacial sea-level changes around the Australian margin: a review. Quat Sci Rev 74:115–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Moverley JH (2000) Estuarine health assessment using benthic macrofauna. Rivers Future 12:33–36Google Scholar
  49. Müller RD, Dyksterhuis S et al (2012) Australian paleo-stress fields and tectonic reactivation over the past 100 Ma. Aust J Earth Sci 59:13–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Murray‐Wallace CV (2007) Eustatic sea‐level changes since the last glaciation. In: Elias S (ed) Encyclopedia of quaternary science, vol 4. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 3034–3043CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nichol SL (1991) Zonation and sedimentology of estuarine facies in an incised-valley, wave-dominated, microtidal setting, New South Wales, Australia. In: Smith DG, Reinson GE, Zaitlin BA, et al (eds) Clastic tidal sedimentology, vol 16. Can Soc Petrol Geol Mem, pp 41–58Google Scholar
  52. Nichol SL, Murray-Wallace CV (1992) A partially preserved last interglacial estuarine fill: Narrawallee Inlet, New South Wales. Aust J Earth Sci 39:545–553CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Odum EP (1971) Fundamentals of ecology, 3rd edn. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, 574 pGoogle Scholar
  54. Perillo GME (ed) (1995) Geomorphology and sedimentology of estuaries. In: Developments in sedimentology, vol 53. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 471 pGoogle Scholar
  55. Rochford DJ (1959) Classification of Australian estuarine systems. Arch Oceanogr Limnol 11:171–177Google Scholar
  56. Roy PS (1984) Holocene sedimentation histories of estuaries in southeastern Australia. In: Hodgkins EP (ed) Estuarine environments of the southern hemisphere, vol 161. WA Dept Conserv Environ Bull, pp 1–59Google Scholar
  57. Roy PS, Thom BG (1981) Late Quaternary marine deposition in New South Wales and southern Queensland—an evolutionary model. J Geol Soc Aust 28:417–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Roy PS, Thom BG, Wright LD (1980) Holocene sequences on an embayed high-energy coast: an evolutionary model. Sediment Geol 26:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Roy PS, Williams RJ, Jones AR et al (2001) Structure and function of south-east Australian estuaries. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 53:351–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Ryan DA, Heap AD, Radke L, et al (2003) Conceptual models of Australia’s estuaries and coastal waterways: applications for coastal resource management. Geoscience Australia Record 2003/09. 136pGoogle Scholar
  61. Semeniuk V (1985) Development of mangrove habitats along ria shorelines in north and northwestern tropical Australia. Vegetatio 60:3–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Skilbeck CG, Rolph TC, Hill N et al (2005) Holocene millennial/centennial-scale multi-proxy cyclicity in temperate eastern Australian estuary sediments. J Quat Sci 20:327–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Sloss CR, Jones BG, Murray-Wallace CV et al (2005) Holocene sea level fluctuations and the sedimentary evolution of a barrier estuary: Lake Illawarra, New South Wales. J Coast Res 21:943–959CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sloss CR, Murray-Wallace CV, Jones BG (2006) Aminostratigraphy of two Holocene wave-dominated barrier estuaries in southeastern Australia. J Coast Res 22:113–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sloss CR, Murray-Wallace CV, Jones BG (2007) Holocene sea-level change on the southeast coast of Australia: a review. Holocene 17:1001–1016CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Smith TJ III, Duke NC (1987) Physical determinants of inter-estuary variation in mangrove species richness around the tropical coastline of Australia. J Biogeogr 14:9–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Suppiah R (1992) The Australian summer monsoon: a review. Prog Phys Geog 6:531–549Google Scholar
  68. Thom BG (1984) Sand barriers of eastern Australia: Gippsland—a case study. In: Thom BG (ed) Coastal geomorphology in Australia. Academic, Sydney, pp 233–261Google Scholar
  69. Thom BG, Wright LD (1983) Geomorphology of the Purari Delta. In: Petr T (ed) The Purari-tropical environment of a high rainfall river basin. Dr. W. Junk, The Hague, pp 47–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Thom BG, Bowman GM, Gillespie R et al (1981) Progradation histories of sand barriers in New South Wales. Search 12:323–325Google Scholar
  71. Walker RG (1976) Facies modes. Geoscience Canada reprint series 1. 211pGoogle Scholar
  72. Walker RG (1992) Facies, facies models and modern stratigraphic concepts. In: Walker RG, James NP (eds) Facies models: response to sea-level change. Geological Association of Canada, Newfoundland, pp 1–14Google Scholar
  73. West RJ, Thorogood CA, Walford TR, et al (1985) An estuarine inventory of New South Wales, Australia. Fisheries Bulletin 2. Department of Agriculture, New South WalesGoogle Scholar
  74. Wolanski E (1986) An evaporation-driven salinity maximum zone in Australian tropical estuaries. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 22:415–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wolanski E (1992) Hydrodynamics of mangrove swamps and their coastal waters. Hydrobiologia 7:141–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wolanski E, Williams D, Spagnol S et al (2004) Undular tidal bore dynamics in the Daly Estuary, Northern Australia. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 60:629–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Woodroffe CD (1996) Late Quaternary infill of macrotidal estuaries in northern Australia. In: Nordstrom KF, Roman CT (eds) Estuarine shores: evolution, environments and human alterations. Wiley, Chichester, pp 89–114Google Scholar
  78. Woodroffe CD (2003) Coasts: form, process and evolution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 623pGoogle Scholar
  79. Woodroffe CD, Saito Y (2011) River-dominated coasts. In: Wolanski E, McLusky DS (eds) Treatise on estuarine and coastal science, vol 3. Academic, Waltham, pp 17–135Google Scholar
  80. Woodroffe CD, Chappell J, Thom BG et al (1989) Depositional model of a macrotidal estuary and floodplain, South Alligator River, Northern Australia. Sedimentology 36:737–756CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Woodroffe CD, Mulrennan ME, Chappell J (1993) Estuarine infill and coastal progradation, southern van Diemen Gulf, northern Australia. Sediment Geol 83:257–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Woods JLD, Kennedy D (2011) The measurement of modern sedimentation in estuarine environments in New Zealand. New Zeal Geogr 67:39–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wright LD, Coleman JM (1973) Variations in morphology of major river deltas as functions of ocean wave and river discharge regimes. Am Assoc Petr Geol Bull 57:370–398Google Scholar
  84. Zaitlin BAR, Dalrymple W, Boyd R (1994). The stratigraphic organization of incised-valley systems associated with relative sea-level change. In: Dalrymple RW, Boyd R, Zaitlin BAR (eds) Incised-valley systems: origin and sedimentary sequences, vol 51. Soc Econ PA, pp 45–60Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Gregory Skilbeck
    • 1
  • Andrew D. Heap
    • 2
  • Colin D. Woodroffe
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Technology SydneySchool of Life SciencesUltimoAustralia
  2. 2.Energy Systems BranchResources Division, Geoscience AustraliaSymonstonAustralia
  3. 3.School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of WollongongWollongongAustralia

Personalised recommendations