Longshore Sediment Transport on a Mixed Sand and Gravel Lakeshore
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis examines the processes of longshore sediment transport in the swash zone of a mixed sand and gravel shoreline, Lake Coleridge, New Zealand. It focuses on the interactions between waves and currents in the swash zone and the resulting sediment transport. No previous study has attempted to concurrently measure wave and current data and longshore sediment transport rates on a mixed sand and gravel lakeshore beach in New Zealand. Many of these beaches, in both the oceanic and lacustrine environments, are in net long-term erosion. It is recognised that longshore sediment transport is a part of this process, but very little knowledge has existed regarding rates of sediment movement and the relationships between waves, currents and swash activity in the foreshore of these beach types. A field programme was designed to measure a comprehensive range of wind, wave, current and morphological variables concurrently with longshore transport. Four electronic instruments were used to measure both waves and currents simultaneously in the offshore, nearshore and swash zone. In the offshore area, an InterOcean S4ADW wave and current meter was installed to record wave height, period, direction and velocity. A WG-30 capacitance wave gauge measured the total water surface variation. A pair of Marsh-McBirney electromagnetic current meters, measuring current directions and velocities were installed in the nearshore and swash zone. Data were sampled for 18 minutes every hour with a Campbell Scientific CR23x data-logger. The wave gauge data was sampled at a rate of 10 Hz (0.1 s) and the two current meters at a rate of 2 Hz (0.5 s). Longshore sediment transport rates were investigated with the use of two traps placed in the nearshore and swash zone to collect sediment transported under wave and swash action. This occurred concurrently with the wave measurements and together yielded over 500 individual hours of high quality time series data. Important new insights were made into lake wave processes in New Zealand's alpine lakes. Measured wave heights averaged 0.20-0.35 m and ranged up to 0.85 m. Wave height was found to be strongly linked to the wind and grew rapidly to increasing wind strength in an exponential fashion. Wave period responded more slowly and required time and distance for the wave length to develop. Overall, there was a narrow band of wave periods with means ranging from 1.43 to 2.33 s. The wave spectrum was found to be more mixed and complicated than had previously been assumed for lake environments. Spectral band width parameters were large, with 95% of the values between 0.75 and 0.90. The wave regime attained the characteristics of a storm wave spectrum. The waves were characteristically steep and capable of obtaining far greater steepness than oceanic wind-waves. Values ranged from 0.010 to 0.074, with an average of 0.051. Waves were able to progress very close to shore without modification and broke in water less than 0.5 m deep. Wave refraction from deep to shallow water only caused wave angles to be altered in the order of 10%. The two main breaker types were spilling and plunging. However, rapid increases in beach slope near the shoreline often caused the waves to plunge immediately landward of the swash zone, leading to a greater proportion of plunging waves. Wave energy attenuation was found to be severe. Measured velocities were some 10 times less at two thirds the water depth beneath the wave. Mean orbital velocities were 0.30 m s⁻¹ in deep water and 0.15 m s⁻¹ in shallow water. The ratio difference between the measured deep water orbital velocities and the nearshore orbital velocities was just under one half (us/uo = 0.58), almost identical to the predicted phase velocity difference by Linear wave theory. In general Linear wave theory was found to provide good approximations of the wave conditions in a small lake environment. The swash zone is an important area of wave dissipation and it defines the limits of sediment transport. The width of the swash zone was found to be controlled by the wave height, which in turn determined the quantity of sediment transported through the swash zone. It ranged in width from 0.05 m to 6.0 m and widened landward in response to increased wave height and lakeward in response the wave length. Slope was found to be an important secondary control on swash zone width. In low energy conditions, swash zone slopes were typically steep. At the onset of wave activity the swash zone becomes scoured by swash activity and the beach slope grades down. An equation was developed, using the wave height and beach slope that provides close estimates of the swash zone width under a wide range of conditions. Run-up heights were calculated using the swash zone width and slope angle. Run-up elevations ranged from 0.01 m to 0.73 m and were strongly related to the wave height and the beach slope. On average, run-up exceeds the deep water wave height by a factor of 1.16H. The highest run-up elevations were found to occur at intermediate slope angles of between 6-8°. Above 8°, the run-up declined in response to beach porosity and lower wave energy conditions. A generalised run-up equation for lake environments has been developed, that takes into account the negative relationship between beach slope and run-up. Swash velocities averaged 0.30 m s⁻¹ but maximum velocities averaged 0.98 m s⁻¹. After wave breaking, swash velocities quickly reduced through dissipation by approximately one half. Swash velocity was strongly linked to wave height and beach slope. Maximum velocities occurred at beach slopes of 5°, where incident swash dominated. At slopes between 6° and 10°, swash velocities were hindered by turbulence, but the relative differences between the swash and backswash flows were negligible. At slope angles above 10° there was a slight asymmetry to the swash/backswash flow velocities due to beach porosity absorbing water at the limits of the swash zone. Three equations were developed for estimating the mean and maximum swash velocity flows. From an analysis of these interactions, a process-response model was developed that formalises the morphodynamic response of the swash zone to wave activity. Longshore sediment transport occurred exclusively in the swash zone, landward of the breaking wave in bedload. The sediments collected in transit were a heterogeneous mix of coarse sands and fine-large gravels. Hourly trapped rates ranged from 0.02 to 214.88 kg hr⁻¹. Numerical methods were developed to convert trapped mass rates in to volumetric rates that use the density and porosity of the sediment. A sediment transport flux curve was developed from measuring the distribution of longshore sediment transport across the swash zone. Using numerical integration, the area under this curve was calculated and an equation written to accurately estimate the total integrated transport rates in the swash zone. The total transport rates ranged from a minimum of 1.10 x 10-5 m³ hr⁻¹ to a maximum of 1.15 m³ hr⁻¹. The mean rate was 7.36 x 10⁻² m³ hr⁻¹. Sediment transport was found to be most strongly controlled by the wave height, period, wave steepness and mean swash velocity. Transport is initiated when waves break at an oblique angle to the shoreline. No relationships could be found between the grain size and transport rates. Instead, the critical threshold velocities of the sediment sizes were almost always exceed in the turbulent conditions under the breaking wave. The highest transport rates were associated with the lowest beach slopes. It was found that this was linked to swash high velocities and wave heights associated with foreshore scouring. An expression was developed to estimate the longshore sediment transport, termed the LEXSED formula, that divides the cube of the wave height and the wave length and multiplies this by the mean swash velocity and the wave approach angle. The expression performs well across a wide range of conditions and the estimates show very good correlations to the empirical data. LEXSED was used to calculate an accurate annual sediment transport budget for the fieldsite beaches. LEXSED was compared to 16 other longshore sediment transport formulas and performed best overall. The underlying principles of the model make its application to other mixed sand and gravel beaches promising.