Infoscience

Journal article

Wave-induced watertable fluctuations, sediment transport and beach profile change: Modeling and comparison with large-scale laboratory experiments

Coastal groundwater systems can have a considerable impact on sediment transport and foreshore evolution in the surf and swash zones. Process-based modeling of wave motion on a permeable beach taking into account wave-aquifer interactions was conducted to investigate the effects of the unconfined coastal aquifer on beach profile evolution, and wave shoaling on the water table. The simulation first dealt with wave breaking and wave runup/rundown in the surf and swash zones. Nearshore hydrodynamics and wave propagation in the cross-shore direction were simulated by solving numerically the two-dimensional Navier-Stokes equations with a k-ε turbulence closure model and the Volume-Of-Fluid technique. The hydrodynamic model was coupled to a groundwater flow model based on SEAWAT-2000, the latter describing groundwater flow in the unconfined coastal aquifer. The combined model enables the simulation of wave-induced water table fluctuations and the effects of infiltration/exfiltration on nearshore sediment transport. Numerical results of the coupled ocean/aquifer simulations were found to compare well with experimental measurements. Wave breaking and infiltration/exfiltration increase the hydraulic gradient across the beachface and enhance groundwater circulation inside the porous medium. The large hydraulic head gradient in the surf zone leads to infiltration across the beachface before the breaking point, with exfiltration taking place below the breaking point. In the swash zone, infiltration occurs at the upper part of the beach and exfiltration at the lower part. The simulations confirm that beaches with a low water table tend to be accreted while those with a high water table tend to be eroded.

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