Investigating the evolution and formation of coastlines and the response to sea-level rise
Author(s)Ortiz, Alejandra C
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Andrew D. Ashton.
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To understand how waves and sea level shape sandy shoreline profiles, I use existing energetics-based equations of cross-shore sediment flux to describe shoreface evolution and equilibrium profiles, utilizing linear Airy wave theory instead of shallow-water wave assumptions. By calculating a depth-dependent characteristic diffusivity timescale, I develop a morphodynamic depth of shoreface closure for a given time envelope, with depth increasing as temporal scale increases. To assess which wave events are most important in shaping the shoreface in terms of occurrence and severity, I calculate the characteristic effective wave conditions for both cross-shore and alongshore shoreline evolution. Extreme events are formative in the cross-shore shoreface evolution, while alongshore shoreline evolution scales linearly with the mean wave climate. Bimodal distributions of weighted wave heights are indicative of a site impacted more frequently by tropical storms rather than extra-tropical storms. To understand how offshore wave climate and underlying geometry of a carbonate reef platform shapes evolution of atolls, I simulate the hydrodynamics of a simplified reef flat, using XBeach, a two-dimensional model of infragravity wave propagation. The reef flat self-organizes to a specific width and water depth depending on the offshore wave climate and characteristics of the available sediment. Formation of a sub-aerial landmass, like a motu, can be initiated by a change in offshore wave climate (like a storm), which can create a nucleation site from mobilization and deposition of coarse sediment on the reef flat. Once a motu is present, the shoreline should prograde until reaching a critical reef-flat width. Our conceptual model of reef-flat evolution and motu formation is governed by understanding the hydrodynamics of the system and subsequent response of sediment transport.
Thesis: Ph. D., Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), 2015.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentJoint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering., Civil and Environmental Engineering., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.