Salt pans at Aberlady
The transition from tidal flat to low and high salt marsh, transition zone and land. These shore-parallel zones of halophyte vegetation are typical of temperate tidal shorelines. Salt marshes show a range of subtle landforms that reflect the accumulation and recycling of mud and sand.
Google Earth image of the salt marsh west of the car park at Aberlady with its creeks and salt pans
Definition: a flat, muddy coastal wetland found on low-energy coasts, with a cover of salt-tolerant grasses that is inundated periodically by the tide
Salt marshes form when mudflats are raised to the level of the average high
tide. The accumulation of mud is most common in estuaries where the river brings
fine-grained sediment to slack water but where wave action cannot rework the
settled mud. Grasses tolerant of salt water then slowly take hold and spread,
stabilizing the land through the growth of root systems and trapping more
The ebb and flood of daily tides creates process and vegetation zones:
Salt marshes form a buffer zone between mudflats and terrestrial habitats. These soft shores provide some of the richest habitats for shallow marine organisms and attract large numbers of wading birds. The marshes dampen wave activity and so protect the shore from erosion.