Rivers, Coasts and Oceans
Run by School of Natural Sciences
20.000 Credits or 10.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Lynda Yorke
Overall aims and purpose
- To provide a foundation and conceptual framework in which to understand fluvial, coastal and deep marine environments, including intrinsic and extrinsic processes operating within such systems.
- To understand the main hydrodynamic and sedimentary processes operating within and characterising the channel, floodplain, coastal and marine environments.
- To provide an overview of the external (climate change, human activity, tectonics and base-level change) and internal controls on river systems and examine the associated river responses at a range of spatial and temporal scales.
- To present the climatic and oceanographic controls on open coast and deep sea sediments and sedimentary environments.
- To introduce students to the current debates and literature in this field and discuss the relevant application to present-day management of fluvial and marine environments.
This module deals with the cascade from source to sink, divided up in to three segments: catchment-fluvial, coastal (continental shelf), and deep marine (Sømme et al., 2009). Each segment is a morphodynamic zone, but these zones are also genetically related and dynamically connected (Allen, 2017). Geomorphology, sedimentology, and stratigraphy are core to understanding the flow of sediments within and through these segments. Sediments from single or multiple sources are routed through the source to sink cascade, with each morphodynamical zone connecting regions of erosion, sediment transfer, temporary storage, and long-term deposition.
The module will explore the key foundational and conceptual frameworks (thresholds, sensitivity, drivers) in these geomorphological zones. The module will explore the mechanisms and responses to external factors, such as environmental change, tectonics, base-level change, and anthropogenic activity, alongside developing an understanding of intrinsic and extrinsic processes in these key zones. The module will examine sediments within these zones, which are important components of biogeochemical and ecological systems, and have major socio-economic significance. This module will examine the sediment routing system (origin, controls, and processes that determine the properties, transport, and deposition) in the catchment-fluvial, coastal (e.g., beaches, barriers, deltas, tidal flats) and continental shelf, the deep ocean basins segments. Students will be encouraged to critically engage with the literature and key debates, and to develop a scholarly and applied approach to the subject.
Major themes covered
Foundation and Framework: Equilibrium, thresholds, transition, complexity, and response. External/Intrinsic Drivers (Base level change, Climate, Tectonics, Humans).
Catchment-Fluvial Environments: Geomorphology Single (meandering) and multi-thread (braided, wandering) channels Alluvial channels, bars and floodplains Facies, sedimentary sequences, and subenvironments Importance of river to marine cascade Cable Bay as natural laboratory Pilcomayo case study & Ebro/Rhone/Var case study Alluvial Histories River response to environmental change Quaternary fluvial history
Coastal-Beach Environments: The coastal morphodynamic system Coastal classification: transgressive/progressive; wave/tide dominated Coastal barrier systems and the shoreface Beaches: classification, wave-driven currents, morphology, engineering applications Tidal flats
Deltaic Environments: Classification: wave/fluvial dominance Stratigraphy Continental shelf : Classification: tide/wave/storm dominated Morphological features Sediment budgets
Shelf edge and Deep Marine Environments: Processes, facies, sedimentary sequences, and subenvironments Density cascading Sediment gravity flows Submarine fans and channels and hydrocarbons Contourite drifts Pelagic and hemipelagic sedimentation
Grade D- to C+:
Adequate knowledge of the key concepts. Presentation of appropriate examples to illustrate elements of the directly taught programme. Basic ability to describe and explain the core subject matter. Little evidence of reading beyond the taught material. Some understanding of the multidisciplinary subject matter, with a basic level of critical evaluation.
Grade B- to B+:
Clear understanding and thorough knowledge of the key concepts, with evidence of reading around the subject. Good ability to integrate the multidisciplinary subject matter. Good understanding and ability to critically evaluate the subject matter. High standard of presentation.
Grade A- to A**:
Excellent understanding, wide and thorough knowledge of the key concepts. Evidence of significant wider reading, with appreciation of recent research developments and creative potential to develop research ideas. Excellent ability to integrate multidisciplinary subject matter. Detailed understanding and explanation of concepts and principles. Critical evaluation, with well-reasoned opinion. Elegant and flowing presentation, with flair for the subject.
Demonstrate knowledge of the key concepts governing fluvial behaviour in a catchment. Understand the concepts and principles which govern marine sedimentary environments (ES 188.8.131.52)
Explain the features of ancient and modern braided and meandering river systems and sedimentary sequences.
Understand the long-term dynamics of river systems and the controls operating within fluvial systems, and be able to comprehensively discuss how these condition river response to environmental change.
Understand how an interdisciplinary approach is needed to understand the nature of sediment deposits (ES 184.108.40.206)
Synthesise and summarise interdisciplinary information critically (ES 220.127.116.11), and critically analyse the literature.
Reconstruct ancient sediment environments using data gathered through field observation
Understand physical and key biological controls of sedimentation in coastal and shelf seas, and deep sea environments, and the temporal and spatial scales of variation, and anthropogenic impacts (ES 18.104.22.168)
Teaching and Learning Strategy
Students will undertake both direct learning and private study so that they engage with the core literature. Students should use some of the time to perpare for workshops, practicals and assessments.
Lecture-based learning to deliver the core concepts and theories in this subject.
2 day field course to the Aberystwyth area to take a source to sink approach, and ancient to comptemporary viewpoint in terms of rivers, coasts and oceans.
|Practical classes and workshops||
Practical sessions to work on key aspects of the module.
Drop-in workshop sessions to help address any problems with learning or assessments within the module.
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
- Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
- Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in
Subject specific skills
- Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation
- Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations
- Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
- Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
- Apply appropriate techniques for presenting spatial and/or temporal trends in data.
- Prepare effective maps, diagrams and visualizations.
- Undertake field and/or laboratory studies to ensure competence in basic experimental and/or fieldwork skills.
- Engagement with current subject developments and their application.
- Engage in debate and/or discussion with specialists and non-specialists using appropriate language.
- Demonstrate the independence and skills required for continuing professional development
Resource implications for students
Students are not expected to purchase any of the texts.
The majority of the reading for this module is journal-based, but to provide some useful background the following texts are suggested:
Benito, G., Baker, V.R., Gregory, K.J., 1998. Palaeohydrology and Environmental Change. Wiley, Chichester. Bridge, J.S. 2003. Rivers and Floodplains: forms, processes and sedimentary record. Blackwell, Oxford. Charlton, R. 2008. Fundamentals of Fluvial Geomorphology. Routledge, London. Dronkers J.J., 2005. Dynamics of coastal systems, Hackensack, N.J.: World Scientific. Gregory, K.J., Benito, G. 2004. Palaeohydrology: understanding global change. Wiley, Chichester. Gregory, K.J., Starkek, L., Baker, V.R., 1995. Global Continental Palaeohydrology. Wiley, Chichester. Haslett, S.K. 2008. Coastal systems, New York, NY: Routledge. Leeder, M., 2011. Sedimentology and sedimentary basins: from turbulence to tectonics. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester. Masselink G. & Gehrels W.R. eds., 2014. Coastal environments and global change, Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Masselink G., Hughes M.G. & Knight J., 2011. Introduction to coastal processes & geomorphology, London: Hodder Education. Miall, A.D. 1996. The Geology of fluvial deposits: Sedimentary Facies, Basin Analysis, and Petroleum Geology. Springer, Switzerland. Miall, A.D., 2013. Fluvial Depositonal Systems. Springer, Switzerland. Reading, H.G. 1996. Sedimentary Environments: Processes, Facies and Stratigraphy. Blackwell, Oxford.