Gut (coastal geography)

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Hull Gut shows the classic conditions for a gut: a large body of water, subject to tides, drained through a small channel, resulting in heavy flow and strong currents

A gut or gat is a strait that is constantly eroded by currents flowing back and forth, such as tidal currents. It is usually a relatively narrow but deep (up to 100 feet (30 m)) passage between land masses (such as an island and a peninsula) or shallow bars in an area of mudflats. A gut or gat is sometimes a shallower passage on lagoon coasts, including those without any tidal range.

The comparatively large quantities of water that flow quite quickly through a gut cause heavy erosion that results in a channel deeper than the rest of the surrounding seabed and also endangers neighbouring islands. When the water masses from mud flats behind the islands surge out again into the sea as ebb currents, they flow rapidly again through the narrow gut. But as these water masses break out into the open sea, they spread out and slow down. As a result, on this seaward side of the gut, the particles of sand and mud carried with the water settle and form an ebb delta with its shallower waters between the islands. The sandbanks so formed are often known in Germany as plate (pronounced "plah-ter", see Kachelotplate). The point where the water pouring out of the gut runs over these banks, which often lie in an arc between the islands, is the sand bar (German: Barre). This is the shallowest part of the gut for shipping, but also the deepest point on the shallowest line between the islands. A flood delta is formed in a similar way on the landward side of the gut.

A navigation channel to the open sea is usually marked out in the guts by the waterway and shipping authorities. The area of the bar is usually the most dangerous spot; this is where rip tides and, especially when the current flows against the wind, very dangerous ground swells may occur.

Passages between inner and outer coastal waters, such as at the ends of spits of lagoons or along bodden coasts are also referred to as guts or gats.[1]


The name comes from the Low German and Dutch word "gat" which means "gap". "Gat" is incorporated into some Dutch or Dutch-derived proper names of passages (e. g. Kattegat, Veerse Gat) which may or may not be proper gats.[2] In English names, both "gat" (e. g. Fisherman's Gat) and "gut" (e. g. Digby Gut, Hull Gut, The Gut at Biddeford Pool, Gut of Canso) are seen.

In German, "Gat", "Seegatt" and the diminutive "Gatje" refer to an arm of the sea which is not necessarily a gut; for instance, the Prerower Strom ("Prerower Stream"), which is a regressive delta, is a gat. Seegatt (also "Neue Tief" (New Deep)) is the German proper name of the passage at Baltiysk (Pillau) which separates the Vistula Lagoon from the Baltic Sea.[3]

List of named gats[edit]

German Bight[edit]

  • Blindes Randzelgat
  • Dukegat
  • Dwarsgat
  • Emshörngat
  • Evermannsgat
  • Großputengat
  • Haaksgat
  • Harle-Seegatt
  • Homme Gat
  • Horsborngat
  • Hubertgat
  • Hungat
  • Kalfamergat
  • Nordergat
  • Nordeneyer Seegat
  • Randzelgat
  • Riffgat
  • Rütergat
  • Skittgat
  • Spaniergat
  • Stickers Gat
  • Wagengat


  • Amelander Gat
  • Duinkers Gat
  • East Gat, West Cappel
  • Eijerlandse Gat
  • Homme Gat
  • Molengat
  • North Gat, Texel
  • Russian Gat, Vlie
  • Schulpe Gat
  • Veer Gat

Baltic Sea[edit]

  • Kattegat (not strictly a gat despite its name)
  • Seegatt

United Kingdom[edit]

  • Cockle Gat, Yarmouth
  • Fisherman's Gat, Thames Estuary
  • Foulger's Gat, Thames Estuary
  • Hasborough Gat, Yarmouth
  • Nicholas Gat, Yarmouth


  1. ^ Sinnwell, Armin; Riedel, Glenn. "Wustrow, on the Fischland Isthmus". Bertelsmann, der große Deutschlandatlas [Bertelsmann, the Great Atlas of Germany]. Wissen Media Verlag. p. 75. ISBN 978-3577135313. Retrieved April 10, 2014.  (German)
  2. ^ Leser, Hartmut, ed. (1997). Wörterbuch Allgemeine Geographie [Dictionary of Geographical Terms]. Munich: Diercke. ISBN 978-3423034227.  (German)
  3. ^ Pierer's Universal Lexicon 15. Altenburg. 1862. p. 741.  Retrieved at "Seegatt". Pierer's Universal Lexicon. Retrieved April 10, 2014.  (German)