Generalized coastal facies models invariably assume that tidal flats and intertidally exposed shorefaces along macrotidal coasts are tide-dominated. Recent advances in coastal sedimentology, however, have revealed that wave-dominated macrotidal flats also occur in a wide range of coastal settings, in particular where tidal modulation forces the lateral translation of the wave-affected zone across the tidally exposed shoreface with the rising tide. Despite tidal modulation, the depositional character in the latter case (abundant storm deposits) exhibits a high degree of similarity with conventional subtidal shorefaces, implying that it is inherently difficult to distinguish between the two coastal systems in the rock record. In the present study, integrated sedimentological and ichnological data from the Dongho coast, which is located along the southwest coast of Korea, provide valuable information for the establishment of facies criteria that can assist in the recognition of such coastal deposits. In fact, the sedimentary character of the study area, which is dominated by an abundance of wave-formed structures, resembles that generally associated with subtidal shorefaces. In addition, the depositional processes responsible for sediment accumulation are, in the present case, also strongly influenced by pronounced seasonal variations in wave energy. In this context, the study has revealed a number of major features that appear to be characteristic of wave-dominated intertidal flats and shorefaces: (1) firmground muds may be encountered on the beach face, where intense swash-backwash motions are dominant; (2) the thickness of storm deposits decreases landward, reflecting the progressive decrease in wave energy; (3) ichnologically, there is an offshore shift in the dominance of trace fossils from the Skolithos ichnofacies, including Ophiomorpha, Thalassinoides and Psilonichnus, to a proximal expression of the Cruziana ichnofacies, which includes Siphonichnus and Asterosoma; (4) compared with subtidal shorefaces, the overall ichnological suite is represented by a substantial reduction in diversity and less uniformly distributed burrows. Although these findings have not yet been applied to the rock record, they should nevertheless assist in the distinction between corresponding coastal deposits.
Geo-Marine Letters – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 24, 2017
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