Measuring Hydrodynamics and Sediment Transport in the Swash Zone

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 8:00 AM
Jack Anthony Puleo, Univ of DE-Civil & Envir Engrg, Newark, DE, United States
The swash zone is the most landward region of the nearshore where wave energy is ultimately dissipated or reflected. It is the most accessible region of the nearshore but is the most challenging for obtaining measurements and performing numerical modeling simulations. The challenging aspects are related to the moving shoreline, rapid changes in water depth, bed level fluctuations, swift, turbulent, direction-reversing flows, large suspended, bed and sheet flow sediment loads, large void fraction, and fluid infiltration and exfiltration from the beach. The major hurdle numerical modelers face is predicting sediment transport rates on a swash-by-swash basis as errors rapidly lead to inaccuracies in simulated morphological evolution. Recent advances in measurement capabilities are now helping to fill gaps in understanding of sediment transport processes and, in turn, improve predictive capability.

Newly developed acoustic Doppler profiling velocimeters have allowed for the measurement of hydrodynamics in the direct vicinity of the bed including boundary layer development, bed shear stresses and turbulence dissipation. Bed shear stresses on natural beaches have been estimated at over 20 N/m2; an order of magnitude larger than in the surf zone. Vertical profiles of turbulence dissipation increase near the bed and near the water surface during uprush (shoreward-directed motion) indicating the simultaneous importance of bottom shear and bore-generated turbulence during this phase of motion. Dissipation during backwash (offshore-directed motion) originates at the bed with little influence from fluid motion near the water surface. Other sensors have enabled, for the first time, the measurement of time dependent sheet flow concentrations. Sheet flow thicknesses have been found to exceed 0.03 m under some natural swash zone conditions and concentrations within the mobile sheet flow layer approach the packed bed limit. Sheet flow sediment concentration profiles for varying sheet flow thicknesses are self-similar when scaled by the layer thickness. Example data from field and large-scale laboratory experiments will be presented to show the fidelity of the new measurements and used to highlight continued difficulties encountered in trying to understand the physical processes occurring in the swash zone.