Process-based modelling of bank-breaking mechanisms of tidal sandbanks

T.J. van Veelen (Corresponding Author), Pieter C. Roos, Suzanne J.M.H. Hulscher

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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Tidal sandbanks are large-scale dynamic bed forms observed in shallow shelf seas. Their plan view evolution may display a single bank breaking into two or more banks, for which two mechanisms have been proposed in the literature. However, as both were based on interpretation of observations, generic support from a process-based modelling perspective is lacking so far. Here we present a new idealised process-based model study into the transient evolution of tidal sandbanks. Key elements are the inclusion of nonlinear dynamics for topographies that vary in both horizontal directions, and the focus on long-term evolution (centuries and longer). As a further novelty, the hydrodynamic solution, satisfying the nonlinear shallow water equations including bottom friction and the Coriolis effect, is obtained from a truncated expansion in the ratio of maximum bank elevation (w.r.t. mean depth) and mean water depth. Bed evolution follows from the tidally averaged bed load sediment transport, enhanced by depth-dependent wind-wave stirring. From our model results, we identify two paths of evolution, leading to either bank-breaking or an S-shape. Which of these paths occurs depends on initial topography, with bank orientation and bank length as major control parameters. The breaking and S-shape obtained in our model results show resemblance with banks observed in the North Sea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-152
Number of pages14
JournalContinental shelf research
Early online date25 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Bank-breaking mechanisms
  • Nonlinear morphodynamics
  • Process-based modelling
  • S-shape
  • Tidal sandbanks
  • Transient evolution


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