Tidal channel classification for a low-mesotidal salt marsh

Gail M. Ashley, Marjorie L. Zeff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The 5 km wide low-mesotidal (1.3 m mean tidal range) back-barrier system of southern New Jersey is a complex network of tidal channels, salt marsh and lagoons. A 3 year study of the fair weather and storm flow and sediment dynamics within the tidal channel network revealed that the channels could be placed into two fundamental hydraulically based groups: through-flowing and dead-end. A classification for low-mesotidal tidal channels is proposed. The first group (through-flowing channels) act as conduits and are composed of two types with different functions, which either: (1) connect the ocean to the lagoon or, (2) connect two tidal channels. The second group (branching dead-ending channels) terminate in the salt marsh. Each of the three types are distinct and can be distinguished by a set of physical and hydrodynamic characteristics. Their importance varies during the evolution of the back-barrier setting when the environment changes from predominantly open water to predominantly salt marsh. Through-flowing channels apparently have a more prominent role during early stages of salt marsh development, whereas dead-end channels become increasingly important with time and dominate in the late stages when little open water remains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-32
Number of pages16
JournalMarine Geology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 1988

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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