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Spectral wave-driven bedload transport across a coral reef flat/lagoon complex

October 22, 2020

Coral reefs are an important source of sediment for reef-lined coasts by helping to maintain beaches while also providing protection in the form of wave energy dissipation. Understanding the mechanisms by which sediment is delivered to the coast as well as better constraining the total volumes generated are critical for projecting future coastal change. A month-long hydrodynamics and sediment transport study on a fringing reef/lagoon complex in Western Australia indicates that lower frequency constituents of wave energy are important to the total bedload transport of sediment across the reef flat and lagoon to the shoreline. The reef flat and the lagoon are characterized by distinctly different transport regimes, resulting in an offset in the timing of bedform migration between the two. Short-term storage of sediment is noted on the reef flat, which is subsequently washed out into the lagoon when offshore wave heights increase and strong currents due to wave breaking at the reef crest develop. This sudden influx of sediment is a significant control on bedform migration rates in the lagoon. Infragravity wave energy on the reef flat and lagoon make an important contribution to the migration of bedforms and resultant bedload transport. Given the complexity of the hydrodynamics of fringing reefs, the transfer of energy to lower frequency bands, as well as accurate estimates of sources and sinks of sediment, must but considered in order to correctly model the transport of sediment from the reef to the coast.

Publication Year 2020
Title Spectral wave-driven bedload transport across a coral reef flat/lagoon complex
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2020.513020
Authors Kurt J. Rosenberger, Curt D. Storlazzi, Olivia Cheriton, Andrew Pomeroy, Jeff E. Hansen, Ryan Lowe, Mark Buckley
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Marine Science
Index ID 70215132
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center