Skip to main content
placeholder image

The evolution of tidal creek networks, mary river, northern Australia

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Tidal creek networks have in 50 years extended over 30 km inland across the coastal plains of the Mary River in northern Australia, invading freshwater wetlands and destroying the associated vegetation. The networks have grown at an exponential rate through a combination of main channel extension and tributary development, with concomitant widening of the creeks. A large tidal range, very small elevational differences over the plains, and the availability of preexisting channel lines (notably in the form of palaeochannels) have been major factors contributing to the rapid rate of expansion. Close parallels exist between these networks and terrestrial networks as regards modes of growth and planimetric properties. A channel is initiated when the diffuse flow of a seepage zone becomes concentrated through localized scour. Subsequent development is characterized by the rapid extension of long first‐order channels, with most tributary addition occurring later. Model tests suggest that branching was more likely on exterior links in the early stages but that exterior and interior link branching became more equally likely through time. Although the headward limits of the main creeks seem to have been reached, tributary infilling will continue to progress upstream. Only in the most downstream parts is a stable drainage density being approached. The networks not only satisfy the laws of drainage network composition and the basic postulates of the random model but also depart from topologic randomness in similar ways to terrestrial networks. Both topologic and length properties have changed during evolution but largely at the link rather than network scale. The close correspondence with terrestrial networks may be due to the low relief and the relatively unconstrained nature of growth in which availability of space was the main determining factor. Copyright © 1992 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Publication Date


  • 1992

Citation


  • Knighton, A. D., Woodroffe, C. D., & Mills, K. (1992). The evolution of tidal creek networks, mary river, northern Australia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 17(2), 167-190. doi:10.1002/esp.3290170205

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-0026479978

Start Page


  • 167

End Page


  • 190

Volume


  • 17

Issue


  • 2

Abstract


  • Tidal creek networks have in 50 years extended over 30 km inland across the coastal plains of the Mary River in northern Australia, invading freshwater wetlands and destroying the associated vegetation. The networks have grown at an exponential rate through a combination of main channel extension and tributary development, with concomitant widening of the creeks. A large tidal range, very small elevational differences over the plains, and the availability of preexisting channel lines (notably in the form of palaeochannels) have been major factors contributing to the rapid rate of expansion. Close parallels exist between these networks and terrestrial networks as regards modes of growth and planimetric properties. A channel is initiated when the diffuse flow of a seepage zone becomes concentrated through localized scour. Subsequent development is characterized by the rapid extension of long first‐order channels, with most tributary addition occurring later. Model tests suggest that branching was more likely on exterior links in the early stages but that exterior and interior link branching became more equally likely through time. Although the headward limits of the main creeks seem to have been reached, tributary infilling will continue to progress upstream. Only in the most downstream parts is a stable drainage density being approached. The networks not only satisfy the laws of drainage network composition and the basic postulates of the random model but also depart from topologic randomness in similar ways to terrestrial networks. Both topologic and length properties have changed during evolution but largely at the link rather than network scale. The close correspondence with terrestrial networks may be due to the low relief and the relatively unconstrained nature of growth in which availability of space was the main determining factor. Copyright © 1992 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Publication Date


  • 1992

Citation


  • Knighton, A. D., Woodroffe, C. D., & Mills, K. (1992). The evolution of tidal creek networks, mary river, northern Australia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 17(2), 167-190. doi:10.1002/esp.3290170205

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-0026479978

Start Page


  • 167

End Page


  • 190

Volume


  • 17

Issue


  • 2