The role of tides in beach cusp development
Burnet, Tom K.
Werner, B. T.
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Field measurements of morphology and swash flow during three episodes of beach cusp development indicate that tides modulate the height and cross-shore position of beach cusps. During rising tide, beach cusp height decreases as embayments accrete more than horns and the cross-shore extent of beach cusps decreases. During falling tide, beach cusp height increases as embayments erode more than horns and cross-shore extent increases. A numerical model for beach cusp formation based on self-organization, extended to include the effects of morphological smoothing seaward of the swash front and infiltration into the beach, reproduces the observed spacing, position, and tidal modulation. During rising tide, water particles simulating swash infiltrate, preferentially in embayments, causing enhanced deposition. During falling tide, exfiltration of water particles combined with diversion of swash from horns causes enhanced erosion in embayments. Smoothing of beach morphology in the swash zone seaward of the swash front and in the shallow surf zone accounts for most of the observed tidal modulation, even in the absence of infiltration and exfiltration. Despite the qualitative, and in some cases quantitative, agreement of the model and measurements, the model fails to reproduce observed large deviations of horn orientation from shore normal, some aspects of beach cusp shape, and deviations from the basic tidal modulation, possibly because of the simplified parameterization of cross-shore sediment transport and the neglect of the effects of sea surface gradients on flow.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2004. 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 109 (2004): C04011, doi:10.1029/2003JC002154.
Suggested CitationJournal of Geophysical Research 109 (2004): C04011
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