Identifying Preserved Storm Events on Beaches from Trenches and Cores

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Heidi M Wadman1, Edith L Gallagher2, Jesse McNinch1, Ad Reniers3 and Melike Koktas3, (1)US Army Corps of Engineers, Field Research Facility, Kitty Hawk, NC, United States, (2)Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA, United States, (3)Delft University of Technology, Hydrolic Engineering, Delft, Netherlands
Recent research suggests that even small scale variations in grain size in the shallow stratigraphy of sandy beaches can significantly influence large-scale morphology change. However, few quantitative studies of variations in shallow stratigraphic layers, as differentiated by variations in mean grain size, have been conducted, in no small part due to the difficulty of collecting undisturbed sediment cores in the energetic lower beach and swash zone. Due to this lack of quantitative stratigraphic grain size data, most coastal morphology models assume that uniform grain sizes dominate sandy beaches, allowing for little to no temporal or spatial variations in grain size heterogeneity. In a first-order attempt to quantify small-scale, temporal and spatial variations in beach stratigraphy, thirty-five vibracores were collected at the USACE Field Research Facility (FRF), Duck, NC, in March-April of 2014 using the FRF’s Coastal Research and Amphibious Buggy (CRAB). Vibracores were collected at set locations along a cross-shore profile from the toe of the dune to a water depth of ~1m in the surf zone. Vibracores were repeatedly collected from the same locations throughout a tidal cycle, as well as pre- and post a nor’easter event. In addition, two ~1.5m deep trenches were dug in the cross-shore and along-shore directions (each ~14m in length) after coring was completed to allow better interpretation of the stratigraphic sequences observed in the vibracores. The elevations of coherent stratigraphic layers, as revealed in vibracore-based fence diagrams and trench data, are used to relate specific observed stratigraphic sequences to individual storm events observed at the FRF. These data provide a first-order, quantitative examination of the small-scale temporal and spatial variability of shallow grain size along an open, sandy coastline. The data will be used to refine morphological model predictions to include variations in grain size and associated shallow stratigraphy.