Temporal and Spatial Scales of Sediment Transport Pathways for Sandy Barrier Tidal Inlets

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This study applied a sediment tracking methodology within a numerical sediment-transport model that includes bed layering in the computation of morphology change. The temporal scale of sediment exchange between various morphological features of an idealized inlet and its adjacent beaches, and the vertical and horizontal distribution of traced sediments, are examined. An idealized numerical model of a mixed-energy inlet was designed to imitate the Johns Pass tidal inlet in West-central Florida, USA. The analyses of the adjacent beach contribution to tidal inlet sediment bypassing demonstrate various temporal scales on sediment transport and exchange. High energy wave events dominate the temporal scale for sand to be transported from the updrift beach to the ebb-tidal delta, whereas cyclical tidal processes have a significant influence on the spatial pattern of exchange between the shoals and channel features of the tidal inlet. The ability to simulate burial and erosion of tracers allowed identification of offshore sedimentation hotspots such as terminal lobe as well as zones of deposition and active transport in shallow water, such as the updrift channel margin linear bar and the downdrift platform of the ebb-tidal delta. The general sediment bypassing pathway reflects a tidal-driven redistribution following event-driven pulses of wave-induced sediment mobilization. Sediment is transported along the beach during these energetic wave events. Flood- and ebb-tidal currents transports the sediment mobilized by high waves into the inlet channels. This is followed by subsequent gradual redistribution of the deposited channel sediments over the ebb-tidal delta features during fair-weather conditions.

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Coastal Sediments, p. 1911-1926