Mudflat surface sediment type mapping by remote sensing considering the effect of the chlorophyll-a content

Yujia Zhao, Dong Zhang (Lead / Corresponding author), Huili Deng, Mark Cutler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mudflats are critical interfaces between the marine and terrestrial environment of muddy coasts. Mapping mudflat surface sediment types and analyzing their dynamic changes are helpful to understand the variations of sedimentary environments and their responses to tidal current movements. To obtain the surface sediment types of the mudflats, this study first took the chlorophyll-a content as an environmental variable and combined it with satellite spectral reflectance data processed by fractional-order derivative (FOD) to establish a machine learning model for retrieving sediment component content (SCC) of the sand, silt, and clay. Then, the three SCCs were linear equilibrium corrected and inputted into Folk's ternary classification model, and the spatial distribution map of the sediment types was accurately obtained. The results showed that the use of the FODs for satellite image enhancement could provide richer spectral information and improve the accuracy of the chlorophyll-a content and SCCs inversed by the grid search-support vector machine (GS-SVM) model. When compared to direct spectral modeling, considering the effect of the chlorophyll-a content as the key input factor, the coefficients of determination (R2) for the sand, silt, and clay contents inversion were increased by 15.1, 9.2, and 38.2%, and the root mean square error (RMSE) were reduced by 9.7, 5.5, and 2.5%, respectively. Surface sediment type maps obtained from the three SCCs showed that the main sediments in the mudflats on the central coast of Jiangsu Province, China were silty sand and sandy silt. Between 2019 and 2021, the sediment types in 84.46% of the total area were unchanged. For the changing area, the sediment transitioned toward finer-grained types near the seawall of the coastal region. Whereas in the offshore area, especially along the edge of the huge tidal channels, the sediments tended to be coarser because of strong hydrodynamic screening. The findings will be helpful for improving the ability of mudflat sedimentation environmental monitoring and spatial resource management via remote sensing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108276
Number of pages13
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Early online date24 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2023


  • Support vector machine
  • Fractional-order derivative
  • Chlorophyll-a content
  • Sediment component content
  • Linear equilibrium correction
  • Sediment type

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography


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