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Nearshore shore-oblique bars, gravel outcrops, and their correlation to shoreline change

January 1, 2006

This study demonstrates the physical concurrence of shore-oblique bars and gravel outcrops in the surf zone along the northern Outer Banks of North Carolina. These subaqueous features are spatially correlated with shoreline change at a range of temporal and spatial scales. Previous studies have noted the existence of beach-surf zone interactions, but in general, relationships between nearshore geological features and coastal change are poorly understood. These new findings should be considered when exploring coastal zone dynamics and developing predictive engineering models.

The surf zone and nearshore region of the Outer Banks is predominantly planar and sandy, but there are several discrete regions with shore-oblique bars and interspersed gravel outcrops. These bar fields have relief up to 3 m, are several kilometers wide, and were relatively stationary over a 1.5 year survey period; however, the shoreward component of the bar field does exhibit change during this time frame. All gravel outcrops observed in the study region, a 40 km longshore length, were located adjacent to a shore-oblique bar, in a trough that had width and length similar to that of the associated bar. Seismic surveys show that the outcrops are part of a gravel stratum underlying the active surface sand layer.

Cross-correlation analyses demonstrate high correlation of monthly and multi-decadal shoreline change rates with the adjacent surf-zone bathymetry and sediment distribution. Regionally, areas with shore-oblique bars and gravel outcrops are correlated with on-shore areas of high short-term shoreline variability and high long-term shoreline change rates. The major peaks in long-term shoreline erosion are onshore of shore-oblique bars, but not all areas with high rates of long-term shoreline change are associated with shore-oblique bars and troughs.

Publication Year 2006
Title Nearshore shore-oblique bars, gravel outcrops, and their correlation to shoreline change
DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2006.08.007
Authors C.A. Schupp, J. E. McNinch, J. H. List
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine Geology
Index ID 70028716
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center