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Modeling navigation channel infilling and migration at tidal inlets: sensitivity to waves and tidal prism
Connell, K.J. (2007). Modeling navigation channel infilling and migration at tidal inlets: sensitivity to waves and tidal prism. Bull. Perm. Int. Assoc. Navig. Congr. 128: 17-31
In: Bulletin of the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses = Bulletin de l'Association Internationale Permanente des Congrès de Navigation. PIANC/PIANC = AIPCN: Bruxelles. ISSN 0374-1001, more

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  • Connell, K.J.

    As numerical modeling of coastal morphology evolution improves, a mounting constraint in maximizing functionality of the models is gaining insight into the mechanisms that trigger the predicted outcomes. Tidal inlet channels are frequently used for navigation for access to inland harbors and waterways. They are an essential part of a nation’s economy and security, yet these channels frequently require costly maintenance due to their existence in a highly dynamic and energetic coastal environment. Understanding the physical processes that optimize channel efficiency may improve inlet channel management decisions to reduce frequency and costs of inlet channel operations and maintenance.

    The objective of this study is to investigate the first-order physical forces that lead to navigation channel shoaling and migration in a sand-substrate tidal inlet. These forces are examined by numerically modeling morphologic evolution of idealized channel topographies under quasi steady-state current and wave forcing. A series of sensitivity tests is presented to examine and isolate key processes and channel morphology configurations that give rise to desired or adverse channel outcomes.

    The study employs the Coastal Modeling System (CMS) (Buttolph et al. 2006) to conduct simulations on a series of test cases representative of idealized inlets with various navigation channel configurations. Each idealized inlet case is developed with dissimilar bay surface area, channel depths, and steady-state waves. These sensitivity tests take into account wave-dominated longshore sediment transport as well as tide-dominated inlet channel transport as mechanisms for forcing navigation channel evolution. This study pertains to open coast, sand-substrate navigation channels that provide access to partly enclosed embayments that are not river-dominated.

    Channel stability and equilibrium cross-sectional area are important factors in determining the success of an inlet channel-bar system within a specified tidal and wave climate. The results obtained in this study support the importance of maintaining hydraulic efficiency in a navigation channel by understanding the average equilibrium processes at a specified location to reduce channel maintenance costs. Equilibrium channel cross-sectional area and morphologic features associated with channels that are influenced by waves and tides should be considered as a system to promote effective channel stability. The findings of this study provide qualitative implications for engineering decision-support for port managers and policy makers in the development of maintenance schedules and preparation of channel modification projects.

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