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Sedimentary records of coastal storm surges: Evidence of the 1953 North Sea event

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  • Graeme T. Swindles
  • Jennifer Galloway
  • Andrew Macumber
  • Ian Croudace
  • Andy R. Emery
  • Claire Woulds
  • Mark Bateman
  • Lauren Parry
  • Julie M. Jones
  • Katherine Anne Selby
  • Greg Rushby
  • A. J. Baird
  • Sarah Woodroffe
  • Natasha L M Barlow


Publication details

JournalMarine Geology
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Jun 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jun 2018
DatePublished (current) - Sep 2018
Pages (from-to)262-270
Early online date23/06/18
Original languageEnglish


The expression of storm events in the geological record is poorly understood; therefore, stratigraphic investigations of known events are needed. The 1953 North Sea storm surge was the largest natural disaster for countries bordering the southern North Sea during the twentieth century. We characterize the spatial distribution of a sand deposit from the 1953 storm surge in a salt marsh at Holkham, Norfolk (UK). Radionuclide measurements, core scanning x-ray fluorescence (Itrax), and particle size analyses, were used to date and characterise the deposit. The deposit occurs at the onset of detectable 137Cs - coeval with the first testing of nuclear weapons in the early 1950s. The sand layer is derived from material eroded from beach and dunes on the seaward side of the salt marsh. After the depositional event, accumulation of finer-grained silt and clay materials resumed. This work has important implications for understanding the responses of salt marshes to powerful storms and provides a near-modern analogue of storm surge events for calibration of extreme wave events in the geological record.

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© 2018 The Authors.

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