Modelling shoreface profile evolution

Marcel J.F. Stive, Huib J. de Vriend

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    Current knowledge of hydro-, sediment and morpho-dynamics in the shoreface environment is insufficient to undertake shoreface-profile evolution modelling on the basis of first physical principles. We propose a simple, panel-type model to map observed behaviour. The internal dynamics are determined by slope-dependent, wave-induced cross-shoreface transports, while the external driving factors are lateral sediment supply and sea-level rise. This model concept is tested with reasonable success against the observed behaviour of the Central Holland Coast, considering two hindcast periods, one covering the evolution over the last century, the other the Subboreal/Subatlantic evolution. A limitation of this model is that the cross-shoreface dynamics are solely steered by the variations of shoaling, short waves. Since a variety of other wave and current dynamics may be expected to be present in the coastal boundary layer, it may well be that the effects of the mechanisms and conditions which are not represented are hidden in the coefficients of the sediment-transport formula. This limits the accuracy of the coefficients as used, and our findings should be considered as an-order-of-magnitude estimate only. Indeed, behaviour-oriented modelling implies that generalization of results to arbitrary situations and conditions is not straightforward. Yet, we expect that some of the conclusions are more generally applicable. This concerns the substantiation of the assumption that the upper shoreface responds on a much smaller time scale than the lower shoreface, and the idea that the shoreface profile is not always and everywhere in equilibrium with its forcing. A worthwhile observation from the Holland Coast application is, that the bottom slope effect on the transport is only important at geological time scales. The profile evolution at the engineering time scales (say 10 to 100 years) is effectively quasi-static, in that there is no feedback between the long-term averaged transport and the state of the profile. This implies that at these smaller scales the profile changes can be predicted on the basis of a static sediment balance. This does not mean that the gravitational downslope transport is unimportant as a physical phenomenon in coastal profile evolution: It is only unimportant if a highly aggregated model like this is applied at relatively short time scales.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)235-248
    Number of pages14
    JournalMarine geology
    Issue number126
    Publication statusPublished - 1995


    • METIS-124100
    • IR-20514

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