3 years ago

A life-cycle model for wave-dominated tidal inlets along passive margin coasts of North America

A life-cycle model for wave-dominated tidal inlets along passive margin coasts of North America
A regional overview of 107 wave-dominated tidal inlets along the U.S. Atlantic coast, U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast, and Canadian Gulf of St. Lawrence coast yielded a generalized wave-dominated tidal inlet life-cycle model that recognized the rotational nature of tidal inlets. Tidal inlets are influenced by concurrently acting processes transpiring over two timescales: short-term, event-driven processes and long-term, evolutionary processes. Wave-dominated tidal inlets are classified into three rotational categories based on net longshore sediment transport direction and rotation direction along the landward (back-barrier) portion of the inlet channel: downdrift channel rotation, updrift channel rotation, or little-to-no channel rotation. Lateral shifting of the flood-tidal delta depocenter in response to available estuarine accommodation space appears to control inlet channel rotation. Flood-tidal delta deposits fill accommodation space locally within the estuary (i.e., creating bathymetric highs), causing the tidal-inlet channel to rotate. External influences, such as fluvial discharge, pre-existing back-barrier channels, and impeding salt marsh will also influence inlet-channel rotation. Storm events may rejuvenate the tidal inlet by scouring sediment within the flood-tidal delta, increasing local accommodation space. Wave-dominated tidal inlets are generally unstable and tend to open, concurrently migrate laterally and rotate, infill, and close. Channel rotation is a primary reason for wave-dominated tidal inlet closure. During rotation, the inlet channel lengthens and hydraulic efficiency decreases, thus causing tidal prism to decrease. Tidal prism, estuarine accommodation space, and sediment supply to the flood-tidal delta are the primary variables responsible for tidal inlet rotation. Stability of wave-dominated tidal inlets is further explained by: stability (S)=tidal prism (Ω)+estuarine accommodation space (V) – volume of annual sediment supply (Mt). Rotating wave-dominated tidal inlets follow a six-stage evolutionary model; whereas wave-dominated tidal inlets that exhibit little-to-no rotation follow a five-stage evolutionary model.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0169555X17305469

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