Abstract

The Mont-Saint-Michel Bay (NW France) is a composite macrotidal environment that was filled up in the course of the Holocene transgression and sea-level highstand. Three main sub-environments constitute the present-day landscape of the bay: 1) a wide embayment with extensive mud to sandflats in the south, 2) a sandy to muddy channel-and-shoal estuarine system in the east, 3) a wave-dominated sandy coast composed of beach and dune barrier in the north.

The Holocene infill of this composite macrotidal basin has been studied thanks to a set of vibrocores and VHR seismic data. The main results are summarized as follows: the TST is composed by a low-energy aggradational unit in the axis of the estuarine valley, and by high-energy sediment bodies (tidal dunes and banks) outside the valley; the HST (post 6500 yr B.P.) constitutes the main component of the infill. In the north, it is characterised by an aggradational unit made of back-barrier tidal lagoonal infill successions. In the embayment, it is represented by an aggradational unit composed of tidal-flat deposits. In the estuarine axis, the HST is constituted by a sand-dominated tidal channel-and-shoal belt.

The rate of the Holocene sea-level rise appears to be the main factor of control of the infill architecture of the Mont-Saint-Michel Bay since the most significant change occurred around 6500 yr B.P. when the transgression slowed down. The interaction between hydrodynamic agents and sediment supply exerts as well a key control, especially during the late Holocene, when transgression is slow. The impact of climate changes is recorded in the infill during this period. The rocky substrate hypsometry should be considered also as a major forcing parameter as it determines the potential of preservation of the infill in relation with the depth of ravinement by tidal currents.

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