Prediction of continental shelf sediment transport using a theoretical model of the wave-current boundary layer
Goud, Margaret R.
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This thesis presents an application of the Grant-Madsen-Glenn bottom boundary layer model (Grant and Madsen, 1979; Glenn and Grant, 1987) to predictions of sediment transport on the continental shelf. The analysis is a two-stage process. Via numerical experiment, we explore the sensitivity of sediment transport to variations in model parameters and assumptions. A notable result is the enhancement of suspended sediment stratification due to wave boundary layer effects. When sediment stratification is neglected under conditions of large wave bottom velocities, concentration predictions can be more than an order of magnitude higher than any observed during storm conditions on the continental shelf. A number of limitations to application emerged from the analysis. Solutions to the stratified model are not uniquely determined under a number of cases of interest, potentially leading to gross inaccuracies in the prediction of sediment load and transport. Load and sediment transport in the outer Ekman Layer, beyond the region of emphasis for the model, can be as large or larger than the near-bottom estimates in some cases; such results suggest directions for improvements in the theoretical model. In the second step of the analysis, we test the ability of the model to make predictions of net sediment transport that are consistent with observed sediment depositional patterns. Data from the Mid-Atlantic Bight and the Northern California coast are used to define reasonable model input to represent conditions on two different types of shelves. In these examples, the results show how the intensification of wave bottom velocities with decreasing depth can introduce net transport over a region. The patterns of erosion/deposition are shown to be strongly influenced by sediment stratification and moveable bed roughness. Also predicted by the applications is a rapid winnowing out of fine grain size components when there is even a small variation of bed grain size texture in the along-flow direction.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution September 1987
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