Subsidence in the Dutch Wadden Sea

Peter A. Fokker*, Freek J. Van Leijen, Bogdan Orlic, Hans Van Der Marel, Ramon F. Hanssen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
358 Downloads (Pure)


Ground surface dynamics is one of the processes influencing the future of the Wadden Sea area. Vertical land movement, both subsidence and heave, is a direct contributor to changes in the relative sea level. It is defined as the change of height of the Earth's surface with respect to a vertical datum. In the Netherlands, The Normaal Amsterdams Peil (NAP) is the official height datum, but its realisation via reference benchmarks is not time-dependent. Consequently, NAP benchmarks are not optimal for monitoring physical processes such as land subsidence. However, surface subsidence can be regarded as a differential signal: The vertical motion of one location relative to the vertical motion of another location. In this case, the actual geodetic height datum is superfluous. In the present paper, we highlight the processes that cause subsidence, with specific focus on the Wadden Sea area. The focus will be toward anthropogenic causes of subsidence, and how to understand them; how to measure and monitor and use these measurements for better characterisation and forecasting; with some details on the activities in the Wadden Sea that are relevant in this respect. This naturally leads to the identification of knowledge gaps and to the formulation of notions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-181
Number of pages53
JournalGeologie en Mijnbouw/Netherlands Journal of Geosciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018


  • inversion
  • remote sensing
  • subsidence
  • Wadden Sea


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