Michael W. Tubman, Joseph N. Suhayda


Mudbanks have been observed to have an extraordinary calming effect on the sea surface. In certain cases this effect is due primarily to the transfer of energy through the sea/mud interface and its frictional dissipation within the bottom sediments. This paper describes an experiment that measured wave characteristics and the resulting sea floor oscillations in an area where the bottom is composed of fine-grained sediments. The energy lost by the waves at the position of the experimental setup is calculated and compared with a direct measurement of the net energy lost by the waves in going from the point of the experiment to a station 3.35 km inshore. Results show that bottom motions in the range of wave-induced bottom pressures from near zero to 2.39 x 10-3 Pascal have the appearance of forced waves on an elastic half space. The apparent effect of internal viscosity is seen in a phase shift between the crest of the pressure wave and the trough of the mud wave. Measurements show this angle to be 22° (ill") for the peak spectral component (T = 7.75 seconds). The energy lost to the bottom by the waves at the field site was found to be at least an order of magnitude greater than that resulting from the processes of percolation or that caused by normal frictional effects. This newly observed mechanism for the dissipation of wave energy is particularly important for waves in intermediate-depth water and could be a prime factor in determining design wave heights in muddy coastal areas.


wave action; bottom movement; fine sediment

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.9753/icce.v15.%25p