Observations of wave orbital scale ripples and a nonequilibrium time-dependent model
Traykovski, Peter A.
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Measurements of seafloor ripples under wave-dominated conditions from the LEO15 site and the Martha’s Vineyard coastal observatory were used to develop a time-dependent model for ripple geometry. The measurements consisted of backscatter imagery from rotary side-scan sonars, centimeter resolution bathymetric maps from a two-axis rotary pencil-beam sonar, and forcing hydrodynamics. During moderate energy conditions the ripple wavelength typically scaled with wave orbital diameter. In more energetic conditions the ripples reached a maximum wavelength of 0.8 to 1.2 m and did not continue to increase in wavelength or decrease in height. The observations showed that the relict ripples left after storms typically had wavelengths close to the maximum wavelength. The time-dependent model is based on an equilibrium model that allows the ripples to maintain wavelength proportional to wave orbital diameter until a suspension threshold determined by wave velocity and grain size is reached. The time-dependent model allows the ripple spectra to follow the equilibrium solution with a temporal delay that is based on the ratio of the ripple cross-sectional area to the sediment transport rate. The data was compared to the equilibrium model, a simplified version of the time-dependent model (where the ripples were assumed to follow the equilibrium model only when the bed stress was sufficient to move sediment), and the complete time-dependent model. It was found that only the complete time-dependent model was able to correctly predict the long wavelength relict ripples and that the other approaches underpredicted relict ripple wavelengths.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2007. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research 112 (2007): C06026, doi:10.1029/2006JC003811.
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