Modeling bio-geomorphological influences for offshore sandwaves

Bastiaan Wijnand Borsje, Mindert de Vries, T.J. Bouma, G. Besio, Suzanne J.M.H. Hulscher, P.M.J. Herman

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The coastal environment shows a wide range of bed patterns, for which sandwaves and sandbanks are among the most common. Less known in this context is the high benthic diversity in the coastal environment, which gives rise to the question to what extend the benthos interacts with the shape of the seabed. This paper reviews field and flume experiments on bio-geomorphological influences between benthos and sediment and tests the hypothesis that both the occurrence and the dimensions of sandwaves are dependent on the benthic diversity in the North Sea. Mathematical inclusions to account for biological activity in idealized models reveal that biota is able to influence the wavelength of sandwaves significantly, compared to the default case. More importantly, the models indicate that biota is able to induce bed patterns under conditions when the physical parameters suggest a stable flat bed and vice versa. Present model explorations indicate that future research should focus on the parameterization of subtidal biological activity on sediment dynamics and thereby on seabed patterns. Such knowledge will enable process-based modeling of the spatial and temporal variation in biological activity on seabed morphodynamics and validate the proposed modeling approach with field measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1301
JournalContinental shelf research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Sand waves
  • North Sea
  • Stability analysis
  • IR-80082
  • Biogeomorphology
  • Morphological/morphodynamic modeling
  • Benthos

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