Encyclopedia of Coastal Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Charles W. Finkl, Christopher Makowski


  • Ian ShennanEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-48657-4_242-2

Peat forms from the accumulation of plant remains in waterlogged, anaerobic conditions that inhibit decomposition. In coastal situations peat forming environments occur within the intertidal zone, typically as salt marsh or mangrove peat, to the landward transition to freshwater environments, wetlands and bog. Accumulation requires a relatively low-energy environment, such as an estuary or behind barriers or dunes. Geographically the range is from the high latitudes to tropics, limited by water balance and the local conditions that constrain plant growth. If it is too dry, the plant material will decompose rapidly and peat will not accumulate.

Peat comprises authochthonous material, decomposed plant material deposited in situ, and allochthonous material, that which is transported to the site of deposition. The latter includes organic material, plants and fauna, and minerogenic material, usually clay, silt, and sand size fractions but occasionally coarser. The organic component...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of DurhamDurhamUK