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Modes of cross-shore transport on the shoreface of the Middle Atlantic Bight
Wright, L.D.; Boon, J.D.; Kim, S.C.; List, J.H. (1991). Modes of cross-shore transport on the shoreface of the Middle Atlantic Bight. Mar. Geol. 96(1-2): 19-51.
In: Marine Geology. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0025-3227, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Wright, L.D.
  • Boon, J.D.
  • Kim, S.C.
  • List, J.H.

    The mechanisms responsible for onshore and offshore sediment fluxes across the shoreface zone seaward of the surf zone were examined in a 3-year field study. The study was conducted in the southern part of the Middle Atlantic Bight in the depth region 7–17 m using instrumented tripods supporting electromagnetic current meters, pressure sensors, suspended sediment concentration sensors, and sonar altimeters. The observations embraced fairweather, moderate energy, swell-dominated, and storm conditions. Cross-shore mean flows ranged from near zero during fairweather to > 20 cm s-1 during the storm; oscillatory flows were on the order of 10 cm s-1 during fairweather and 100 cm s-1 during the storm. Suspended sediment concentrations at about 10 cm above the bed were < 0.1 kg m-3 under fairweather conditions, 1–2 kg m-3 under moderate swell conditions, and > 5 kg m-3 during the storm.Three methods were applied to evaluate the relative importance of incident waves, long-period oscillations, mean flows and gravity in effecting shoreward or seaward sediment flux: (1) an energetics transport model was applied to instantaneous near-bottom velocity data, (2) higher moments of near-bottom flows were estimated and compared, and (3) suspended sediment fluxes were estimated directly from the instantaneous products of cross-shore velocity and suspended sediment concentration. The results show that measurable contributions were made by all four of the processes. Most significantly, mean flows were seen to dominate and cause offshore fluxes during the storm and to contribute significantly to onshore and offshore flux during fairweather and moderate energy. Incident waves were, in all cases, the major source of bed shear stress but also caused shoreward as well as seaward net sediment advection. Low-frequency effects involving wave groups and long-period waves made secondary contributions to cross-shore sediment flux. Contrary to expectations, low-frequency fluxes were just as often shoreward as seaward. Whereas cross-correlations between suspended sediment concentration and the instantaneous near-bottom current speed were high and in phase under storm conditions, they were weak and out of phase during fairweather conditions. This suggests that simple energetics models are probably inadequate for predicting fairweather transport of suspended sediment.

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