Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ping Wang


barrier island beaches, beach morphodynamics, beach nourishment, beach profiles, cross-shore sediment transport, longshore sediment transport


Beaches and coastal environments are dynamic, constantly shaped and reshaped by natural processes and anthropogenic modifications. The morphodynamics and influence of natural and anthropogenic factors of two different coasts at various temporal and spatial scales are discussed.

To quantify the performance of several beach nourishment projects at annual temporal and kilometer spatial scales on three adjacent microtidal low-wave energy barrier islands in west-central Florida, a total of 5,200 beach and nearshore-profiles spaced at 300 m were surveyed monthly to bi-monthly from 2006-2010. Beach nourishment performance is most significantly influenced by the interruption of longshore sediment transport by complex tidal-inlet processes. More specifically, the tidal-inlet processes influencing adjacent beach nourishment performance includes longshore transport interruption resulting from divergence induced by wave refraction over an ebb-tidal shoal, flood-tidal currents along the beach, and total littoral blockage by structured inlets. A morphologic indicator of a large longshore transport gradient within the study area is the absence of a nearshore sandbar. These non-barred beaches are characterized by persistent shoreline erosion and were almost exclusively located in areas with a large longshore transport gradient. The more typical beach state along the three barrier islands was one exhibiting a migratory bar and relatively stable shoreline. The presence of a sandbar indicates the dominance of cross-shore processes, with onshore migration during calm wave conditions and offshore migration during energetic wave conditions. The onshore and offshore migration of the sandbar is closely related to non-stormy summer and stormy winter seasonal beach changes, respectively.

The morphodynamics of a mixed sand and gravel beach in Delaware were investigated based on 740 beach profiles surveyed almost monthly from 2009 to 2011, 60 sediment cores, and 550 surface sediment samples collected at various alongshore and cross-shore transects. Inter-seasonal temporal scales of storm-induced beach changes and post-storm recovery were examined based on a hurricane, a typical energetic winter storm, and an extremely energetic storm resulting from the rare collision of a hurricane and winter storm ("Nor'Ida") occurring within a 3-month period in 2009. The mixed sand and gravel beaches in Delaware are characterized by monotonically increasing water depths lacking a sandbar under all wave conditions. A distinctive beach cycle was identified consisting of a built-up berm profile and depleted nearly-planar storm profile, with a time-scale related to the frequency and intensity of storm impact and duration of intra-storm recovery instead of simple seasonality. The sedimentological characteristics of the storm deposit associated with Nor'Ida demonstrated substantial cross-shore variation ranging from sandy-gravel and gravelly-sand within the storm swash zone (near the pre-storm dune edge) to well-sorted medium to coarse sand seaward of the storm swash zone, suggesting that storm deposits along mixed beaches demonstrate a variety of sedimentological characteristics. A new dynamic beach cycle model is proposed for the non-barred mixed sand and gravel beach with temporal variability controlled by storm occurrence and inter-storm duration.