Infoscience

Journal article

Numerical experiments on interactions between wave motion and variable-density coastal aquifers

A comprehensive two-dimensional (cross-shore) process-based numerical model of nearshore hydrodynamics (based on the Navier-Stokes equations, k-ε turbulence closure and the Volume-Of-Fluid method), beach morphology, and variable-density groundwater flow (SEAWAT-2000) was developed. This model, which was applied at the field scale, relaxes simplifications in existing models that do not include such detailed mechanistic descriptions. Numerical experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of varying aquifer, beach and wave characteristics (e.g., inland groundwater head, sand grain size, different wave heights and periods) on the coupled system. Spilling and plunging breakers on dissipative and intermediate beaches were simulated. For a given set of boundary conditions, the model was run for 1 y without the hydrodynamic sub-model to achieve a realistic salt-/freshwater interface. Then, the hydrodynamic component was run for 15 min and the model results analyzed. The main features considered were groundwater circulation, saltwater wedge position, in/exfiltration across the beach face, and beach morphology. The predictions of the numerical model agree well with existing understanding and experimental measurements. For an inland watertable that is lower than the still water level (SWL), such that the groundwater flow is mainly landward, on both coarse and fine sand beaches the addition of wave motion moves the saltwater wedge further landward. For an inland watertable that is higher than the SWL, the opposite behavior occurred. The numerical experiments showed that more sediment transport takes place on intermediate beaches than on dissipative beaches. In addition, beach profile variations are greater under plunging breakers, while coarse sand beaches are steeper than fine sand beaches for the same wave conditions. There is a strong correlation between in/exfiltration and beach face deposition/erosion for the coarse beaches, while in/exfiltration has a slight effect on sediment transport for fine beaches. The model is capable of simulating the short-term evolution of foreshore profile changes, and beach watertable and saltwater wedge movement due to interactions between wave motion and coastal groundwater.

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