Investigations on the morphodynamics of sandy tidal flats: a modeling application

G. Malvarez, F. Navas, J. Alcantara, D.W.T. Jackson

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14 Citations (Scopus)


In coastal research tidal flats are often classified and investigated in the context of estuarine dynamics due to the widely accepted view that tidal forces are the main responsible for their geomorphological evolution and that biological variables need to play a major role in its evolution. On the other hand coastal morphodyanmics deals mostly with geomorphological evolution of beaches taking a purely geological view on sediment dynamics. In this paper, a discussion is presented in relation to the adequate treatment of tidal flat research by illustrating various numerical and empirical methods used to address morphodynamics on the sandy tidal flats of Newtownards. Common to other sandy tidal flats, the intertidal shores of Newtownards in Strangford Lough (Northern Ireland) are affected by tidal flows (c 0.1 ms-1) given the average tidal range of 3.5 m and the action ofwind generated waves over the fine grained siliciclastic sediments which frequently shows rippled surfaces. The results from a wide range of investigations (previously published) that utilized mainly numerical modeling indicated that the flats of Newtownards characterized by a RTR (relative tidal range) factor of 2.3 to 7, are very sensitive to sediment redistribution due to combined water level / wave height effects which implies that waveenergy dissipation due to bottom friction the primarily shoaling process during relative high energy events.Using empirical methods designed for beach morphodynamics research, it was found that (i) waves exceeded predicted values given short fetch under westerly winds, (ii) wave penetration was a parameter that proved extremely sensitive for sediment entrainment and was not sufficient to generate bedload sediment transport and (iii) further numerical simulations need to be conducted to achieve further understanding on the role of shoalingand spatial distribution of wave energy dissipation on the translating surf and nearshore zones to achieve a complete morphodynamic classification of these ultra-mega dissipative wave dominated environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-167
JournalJournal of Coastal Research
VolumeSI 41
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Dec 2004


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