DEPTH OF DISTURBANCE OF SAND IN SURF ZONES

Michael K. Gaughan

Abstract


A coring technique employed during wave action allowed accurate measurement of the depth of vertical mixing bm of fluorescent sand tracer grains within the surf zone of a gently sloping Pacific Ocean beach (beach slope tangent s = 0.012). The depth bm is the distance from the sediment surface to the lower limit of observed tracer grains within the inner portion of the core. Although this definition is only strictly applicable to a rectangular distribution of tracer concentration with depth, the bm results were quite similar to those using concentration-weighted depth averages of Crickmore (1967). For one winter regime experiment, vertical cross-sectional contour maps of tracer concentration normalized by the local core maximum were drawn with concentrations computed for each 0.4cm slice. Trends present are (1) in the onshore-offshore direction the maximum concentration is at the bed surface shorewards of the mid-surf position and 0.4 cm to 1.2 cm below the bed seaward of the mid-surf position, and (2) in the longshore direction (at the mid-surf position) the maximum concentration lies 0.4 cm to 1.6 cm below the bed surface. For spilling breaker heights Hb between 75 cm and 150 cm, histograms of bm were clearly different for spring/summer and fall/winter experiments: the mean and standard deviation (in parenthesis) are 0.5 cm (0.5 cm) and 1.1 cm (0.5 cm), respectively. These results are substantially less than both the 3.0 cm and the 20 cm to 40 cm disturbance depths per 100 cm of Hb reported by King (1951) and by Otvos (1965) and Williams (1970). The discrepancy with Otvos and Williams is due to the much different breaking process; in their experiments small breakers (Hb = 5 cm to 30 cm) plunged directly onto steep beach slopes (s = 0.1) causing large bm- The tracer grain's longer exposure to bottom stresses of passing surf bores may explain King's greater disturbance depths. Her sampling interval was one semi-diurnal tidal period T versus the span 0.02 T to 0.32 T in this study.

Keywords


surf zone; depth of disturbance; sediment transport

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