Effects of sea level rise on the formation and drowning of shoreface-connected sand ridges, a model study
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Shoreface-connected sand ridges occur on many storm-dominated inner shelves. These rhythmic features have an along-shelf spacing of 2-10 km, a height of 1-12 m, they evolve on timescales of centuries and they migrate several meters per year. An idealized model is used to study the impact of sea level rise on the characteristics of the sand ridges during their initial and long-term evolution. Different scenarios (rates of sea level rise, geometry of inner shelf) are examined. Results show that with increasing sea level the height of sand ridges increases and their migration decreases until they eventually drown. This latter occurs when the near-bed wave orbital velocity drops below the critical velocity for erosion of sediment. In contrast, in the absence of sea level rise, the model simulates shoreface-connected sand ridges with constant heights and migration rates. Model results furthermore indicate that sand ridges do not form if the rate of sea level rise is too high, or if the initial depth of the inner shelf is too small. A larger transverse bottom slope enhances growth and height of sand ridges and they drown quicker. When shoreface retreat due to sea level rise is considered, new ridges form in the landward part of the inner shelf, while ridges on the antecedent part of the shelf become less active and ultimately drown. Only if sea level rise is accounted for, merging of ridges is reduced such that multiple ridges occur in the end state, thereby yielding a better agreement with observations. The physical mechanisms responsible for these findings are also explained. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
CitationNnafie, A. [et al.]. Effects of sea level rise on the formation and drowning of shoreface-connected sand ridges, a model study. "Continental shelf research", 01 Juny 2014, vol. 80, p. 32-48.