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Simulating the evolution of coastal morphology and stratigraphy with a new morphological-behaviour model (GEOMBEST)

January 1, 2005

A new morphological-behaviour model is used to simulate evolution of coastal morphology associated with cross-shore translations of the shoreface, barrier, and estuary. The model encapsulates qualitative principles drawn from established geological concepts that are parameterized to provide quantitative predictions of morphological change on geological time scales (order 10 3 years), as well as shorter time scales applicable for long-term coastal management (order 101 to 102 years). Changes in sea level, and sediment volume within the shoreface, barrier, and estuary, drive the model behaviour. Further parameters, defining substrate erodibility, sediment composition, and time-dependent shoreface response, constrain the evolution of the shoreface towards an equilibrium profile. Results from numerical experiments are presented for the low-gradient autochthonous setting of North Carolina and the steep allochthonous setting of the Washington shelf. Simulations in the Currituck region of North Carolina examined the influence of sediment supply, substrate composition, and substrate erodibility on barrier transgression. Results demonstrate that the presence of a lithified substrate reduces the rate of barrier transgression compared to scenarios where an erodible, sand-rich substrate exists. Simulations of the Washington coast, 20 km north of the Columbia River, confirmed that the model can reproduce complex stratigraphy involving regressive and transgressive phases of coastal evolution. Results suggest that the first major addition of sediment to the shelf occurred around 12 900 years ago and resulted from the rapid addition of sediment volume from the Columbia River attributed to the Missoula floods. This was followed by a period where little or no sediment was added (12 400-9100 BP) and a third period when most sediment was added to the shelf (9100 BP to present) from the Columbia River. Comparing results from each setting demonstrates an indirect control that substrate slope has on shoreface transgression rates. Shoreface transgression is shown to be sensitive to the rate of estuarine sedimentation, with the sensitivity increasing as substrate slope decreases. 

Publication Year 2005
Title Simulating the evolution of coastal morphology and stratigraphy with a new morphological-behaviour model (GEOMBEST)
DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2005.02.019
Authors D. Stolper, J. H. List, E. R. Thieler
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine Geology
Index ID 70029613
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center