On the displacement of marked pebbles on two coarse-clastic beaches during short fair-weather periods (Marina di Pisa and Portonovo, Italy)

Duccio Bertoni, Edoardo Grottoli, Paolo Ciavola, Giovanni Sarti, Giuliano Benelli, Alessandro Pozzebon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The aim of the investigation was to define the mechanisms of sediment transport in the swash zone of microtidal coarse-clastic beaches in the very short term by evaluating the displacement rates of marked pebbles under low-energy wave conditions. Tests were performed at two sites (Marina di Pisa, Ligurian Sea, and Portonovo, central Adriatic Sea) to check the consistency of the data over a range of different grain sizes. Two recovery campaigns were carried out at both sites, one 6 h and the other 24 h after the injection. During the experiments wave action was at a minimum (wave heights never exceeded 0.3 m). The results show that 20% of pebbles ranging in diameter from 30-90 mm moved significantly (more than 0.5 m) already 6 h after the injection, with some tracers being lost (3%). After 24 h, 40% of the pebbles were significantly displaced and 10% were lost. The preferential downslope movement of tracers, which suggests that coarse sediment movement under low-energy conditions is mainly controlled by gravity processes enhanced by steep beachface slopes, represents the novelty of the results reported here. It would appear that swash processes on low-energy beaches cause a significant rate of pebble displacement through the destabilization induced by wave uprush and backwash. Despite the microtidal range, the position of the mean water level plays a major role in changing the beach level at which swash processes can actually trigger pebble movement. The results of this study show that considerable, and mostly seaward-directed, coarse sediment transport takes place even during short fair-weather periods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-476
Number of pages14
JournalGeo-Marine Letters
Volume33
Issue number6
Early online date20 Sep 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2013

Keywords

  • Beach
  • Wave Height
  • Pebble
  • Significant Wave Height
  • Beach Profile

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