Mangroves provide a distinctive mechanism of trapping sediment and accelerating land-building processes in tide-dominated coastal and estuarine environments. The complex hydrodynamic and salinity conditions, accumulation rates of both organic and inorganic sediments, primary surface elevation, and hydroperiod influence sediment retention mechanism within mangrove ecosystems. Abundant terrigenous sediment supply can form dynamic mud banks and the complex aerial root system of mangroves may lead to accretion of sediment by weakening the tidal velocity. Such mechanisms are often enhanced by organic flocculation. The efficiency of sediment trapping by mangroves is species specific. Adaptability and resilience of mangroves enable them to cope with the moderate to high rates of sea level rise. However, subsurface movements and deep subsidence due to autocompaction may augment the effects of relative sea level rise. Increasing population pressure and forest-based economic activities have caused global reduction of mangrove coverage challenging the sedimentation processes. Marker horizon techniques and surface elevation table (SET) tests have facilitated assessment of spatial variability in patterns of sediment accretion and surface elevation in various coastal sites of species-diverse Southeast Asia, especially coastal Malaysia and Thailand. The mangroves of the eastern coast of India have witnessed sediment retention, having an association with the seasonal rainfall regime.
Part of the book: Sedimentary Processes
The deltaic landscape of the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta has evolved through a complex interplay of geomorphic processes and tidal dynamics coupled with the anthropogenic modifications brought over in course of the reclamation of the islands since the late 18th century. The reclamation process was characterized by clearing lands for paddy farms and fish ponds by building a mesh of earthen embankments along creek banks to restrict saltwater intrusion. The length of the embankments in the Indian Sundarbans alone is 3638 km (World Bank, 2014) which altered the tidal inundation regimes, sediment accretion and geomorphic character of the deltaic inlets. The mean annual sedimentation rate (2.3 cm y−1) in the central Ganga-Brahmaputra delta is over two times higher than sedimentation within the natural intertidal setting of the Sundarbans (Rogers et al., 2017). The tidal range has also increased inland due to polder construc¬tion, with high water levels within the polder zone increasing as much as 1.7 cm y−1 (Pethick and Orford, 2013). Embankments have impacted on the biodiversity and physiological adaptations of mangroves within the sphere of tidal ingression, habitat fragmentation and seedling establishment. The chapter attempts to reappraise the impact of dykes on the geomorphology of the deltaic landscape and on the functionalities of mangrove forests.
Part of the book: River Deltas Research