Morphometry of Tidal Meander Cutoffs Indicates Similarity to Fluvial Morphodynamics

C. Gao, E. D. Lazarus, A. D’Alpaos, M. Ghinassi, A. Ielpi, G. Parker, A. Rinaldo, P. Gao, Y. P. Wang, D. Tognin, A. Finotello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sinuous channels wandering through coastal wetlands have been thought to lack lateral-migration features like meander cutoffs and oxbows, spurring the broad interpretation that tidal and fluvial meanders differ morphodynamically. Motivated by recent work showing similarities in planform dynamics between tidal and fluvial meandering channels, we analyzed meander neck cutoffs from diverse tidal and fluvial environments worldwide, and show that tidal cutoffs are widespread. Their perceived paucity stems from pronounced channel density and hydrological connectivity in coastal wetlands, comparatively small size of most tidal channels, and typically dense vegetation cover. Although these factors do not efface tidal meander cutoffs, they collectively inhibit oxbow formation and make tidal cutoffs ephemeral features that can escape detection. We argue that similar morphodynamic processes drive cutoff formation in tidal and fluvial landscapes, with differences arising only during post-cutoff evolution. Such process similarity has important implications for understanding coastal wetland ecomorphodynamics and predicting their long-term evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023GL105893
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 16 2024


  • coastal wetlands
  • ecomorphodynamics
  • hydrological connectivity
  • neck cutoff
  • river meanders
  • tidal meanders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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