L.D. Wright, B.G. Thom, J. Chappell


Field observations of beach and inshore morphology and of surf and inshore current spectra using an array of pressure transducers and low-inertia bidirectional flow meters interfaced with an in-field mini-computer/logging system have been replicated on several beaches in southeastern Australia under a range of energy conditions. Two broad extremes of beach conditions are distinguished spatially and temporally: (1) reflective systems In which much of the incident wave energy Is reflected from the beach face; and (2) dissipative systems with wide surf zones and high turbulent viscosity. Reflectivity increases as the ratio of wave steepness to beach (or bed) steepness decreases. Compared to steep, unbarred reflective beaches which are common in deeply indented or partially protected compart-, ments, the topography of exposed dissipative systems is more complex and varied: six time-and-environment-dependent morphologic types with different bar patterns and bar-beach relationships are recognized. The greatest total dissipation prevails In regions of most abundant inshore sediments or during and immediately after severe storms. Between the reflective and dissipative extremes there is a hierarchy of observed resonant frequencies with the highest frequency resonance occurring in the most reflective cases. Results indicate that near the beach face, motions associated with resonance at periods greater than incident wave periods exhibit strong net seaward resultants and are probably important sources of beach erosion. Reflective beaches are sensitive to resonant excitations over a wider range of frequencies and under lower energy conditions than are dissipative beaches. Hence, although reflective beaches represent the accretive end point of a "beach cycle" they are also more delicately poised with a higher potential for erosion.


morphodynamic variability; beach; high energy beach

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