Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ping Wang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Charles Connor, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nicole Elko, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rick Oches, Ph.D.


beach erosion, nearshore sediment transport, swash excursion, wave breaking, physical modeling, surf zone processes, coastal morphology


The SUPERTANK dataset is analyzed to examine the upper limit of beach change in response to elevated water level induced by wave runup. Thirty SUPERTANK runs are investigated, including both erosional and accretionary wave conditions under random and monochromatic waves. Two experiments, one under a spilling and one under a plunging breaker-type, from the Large-Scale Sediment Transport Facility (LSTF) are also analyzed. The upper limit of beach change approximately equals the maximum vertical excursion of swash runup. Exceptions to this direct relationship are those with beach or dune scarps when gravity-driven changes, i.e., avalanching, become significant. The vertical extent of wave runup, Rmax, above mean water level on a beach without a scarp is found to approximately equal the significant breaking wave height, Hbs. Therefore, a simple formula Rmax = Hbs is proposed. The linear relationship between maximum runup and breaking wave height is supported by a conceptual derivation. This predictive formula reproduced the measured runup from a large-scale 3-dimensional movable bed physical model. Beach and dune scarps substantially limit the uprush of swash motion, resulting in a much reduced maximum runup. Predictions of wave runup are not improved by including a slope-dependent surf-similarity parameter. The limit of wave runup is substantially less for monochromatic waves than for random waves, attributed to absence of low-frequency motion for monochromatic waves.