Simulating offshore sand waves

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Sand waves form a prominent regular pattern in the offshore seabeds of sandy shallow seas and pose a threat to a range of offshore activities. A two-dimensional vertical (2DV) flow and morphological simulation model describing the behaviour of these sand waves has been developed. The simulation model contains the 2DV shallow water equations, with a free water surface and a general bed load formula. The water movement is coupled to the sediment transport equation with a seabed evolution equation. The domain is non-periodic in both directions. The spatial discretisation is performed by a spectral method based on Chebyshev polynomials. A fully implicit method is chosen for the discretisation in time. Firstly, we validate the simulation model mathematically by reproducing the results obtained using a linear stability analysis for infinitely small sand waves. Hereby, we investigate a steady current situation induced by a wind stress applied at the sea surface. The bed forms we find have wavelengths in the order of hundreds of metres when the resistance at the seabed is relatively large. The results show that it is possible to model the initial evolution of sand waves with a numerical simulation model. This paper forms the necessary first step to investigate the intermediate term behaviour of sand waves.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)265-275
Number of pages11
JournalCoastal engineering
Issue number2006
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • IR-47638
  • METIS-218265
  • EWI-8245

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