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1 March 2002 Low-energy Morphodynamics of a Ridge and Runnel System
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A field experiment was carried out over a period of five weeks on an intertidal ridge and runnel system on the Northumberland Strait coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. The area is microtidal with a spring tidal range of just under 2 m. The main purpose of the research was to examine the effects of changing water depth and bar emergence on the morphodynamics of the system and to determine the controls on the stability of the ridges during non-storm conditions. The system is developed on a gently sloping platform over 300 m wide at spring low tide with an average gradient of 0.004. It is characterised by the presence of 5 or 6 ridges in the intertidal zone and 2 bars in the subaqueous zone. The ridges are 0.35–0.50 m in height, 50–60 m in wave length, and the continuity of the ridges alongshore is broken by drainage channels. The system at Linden Beach is similar to others that have developed in a number of areas along this coast on platforms resulting from recession of relatively weak sandstone cliffs. Topographic surveys were carried out along 10 profiles spaced 25 m apart using a total station and the position of the ridge crests and troughs was also mapped using a GPS system. Measurements of wave transformation, water motion and suspended sediment concentration over individual tidal cycles were carried out along a profile across the second ridge and associated troughs using electromagnetic current meters, resistance wave staffs and OBS nephelometers. There were no major storms during the monitoring period but there were a number of days with significant wave heights >0.4 m and the measurements spanned the full range from neap to spring tides. During the five week period the ridge crests exhibited a high degree of stability with maximum movement <5 m. The effects of tidal currents were isolated through measurements made during calm conditions with light winds. Measurements indicate that wave shoaling and breaking across the ridge crest at mid to high tide have the potential to transport large quantities of sediment landward and thus to induce landward migration under non-storm conditions. The stability of the bars appears to be controlled by a combination of offshore flows across the bar crests due to undertow and tidal currents near high tide, and through the transport of sediment alongshore in the troughs and offshore in the drainage channels on the ebb tide. The dynamics of the system more closely resembles that of sub-tidal multiple parallel bars than that of intertidal swash bars.

Low-energy Morphodynamics of a Ridge and Runnel System
©Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc. 2002
Jaime C. Dawson, Robin G.D. Davidson-Arnott, and Jeff Ollerhead "Low-energy Morphodynamics of a Ridge and Runnel System," Journal of Coastal Research 36(sp1), 198-215, (1 March 2002).
Published: 1 March 2002

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