Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Compression behaviour of minerogenic low energy intertidal sediments

Brain, M.J.; Long, A.J.; Petley, D.N.; Horton, B.P.; Allison, R.J.

Compression behaviour of minerogenic low energy intertidal sediments Thumbnail


D.N. Petley

B.P. Horton

R.J. Allison


M Lim


Existing geotechnical approaches that describe volumetric changes in intertidal sediments in response to applied vertical effective stresses are limited by a lack of empirical research into their one-dimensional compression behaviour. In this paper we address this deficiency by presenting the results of an investigation into the compression behaviour of minerogenic low marsh and tidal flat sediments. We have tested samples of these sediment types obtained from Greatham Creek (Cowpen Marsh, Tees Estuary, UK). Analysis of physical properties and oedometer compression tests demonstrates that, contrary to the implicit assumptions of existing models, the surface sediments studied are overconsolidated. Structural variability between samples arises due to sedimentological factors, notably variations in organic content. We attribute overconsolidation to tidal exposure and falls in groundwater level that permit desiccation and cause capillary suction stresses. Greater rates of compression with respect to effective stress occur in sediments with higher initial voids ratios and more open, unstable initial structures. Variability in structure decreases with application of higher effective stresses due to the destructuration of the sediments, which also creates increased homogeneity of compression behaviour under higher effective stresses. We subsequently develop a new conceptual framework to describe compression behaviour in minerogenic intertidal sediments that incorporates overconsolidation. We advocate a statistical approach that accounts for structural variability and variations in compression behaviour at effective stresses less than and greater than the yield stress. We argue that our conceptual framework is broadly applicable to minerogenic intertidal sediments at different locations and burial depths within Holocene stratigraphic sequences providing site-specific compression data are collected. Inter-site transfer and application of measured material properties should not be undertaken due to local variations in compression behaviour resulting from varying ecological, sedimentological, geochemical, climatic, geomorphic and hydrographic conditions. The individual characteristics of different field locations should be carefully considered before the suggested framework is routinely applied.


Brain, M., Long, A., Petley, D., Horton, B., & Allison, R. (2011). Compression behaviour of minerogenic low energy intertidal sediments. Sedimentary Geology, 233(1-4), 28-41.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 15, 2011
Deposit Date Jun 12, 2011
Publicly Available Date May 13, 2014
Journal Sedimentary Geology
Print ISSN 0037-0738
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 233
Issue 1-4
Pages 28-41
Keywords Autocompaction, Compression, Intertidal sediments, Salt marsh, Mudflat, Sea level.


Accepted Journal Article (1.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Sedimentary Geology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Sedimentary Geology, 233, 1–4, 2011, 10.1016/j.sedgeo.2010.10.005.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations