Flow and sediment transport induced by a plunging solitary wave

B. Mutlu Sumer, M.Berke Sen, Ioanna Karagali, Barkin Ceren, Jørgen Fredsøe, Matteo Sottile, L. Zilioli, David R. Fuhrman

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Two parallel experiments involving the evolution and runup of plunging solitary waves on a sloping bed were conducted: (1) a rigid-bed experiment, allowing direct (hot film) measurements of bed shear stresses, and (2) a sediment-bed experiment, allowing for the measurement of pore-water pressures, and for observation of the morphological changes. The two experimental conditions were maintained as similar as possible. The experiments showed that the complete sequence of the plunging solitary wave involves the following processes: Shoaling and wave breaking; Runup; Rundown and hydraulic jump; and Trailing wave. The bed shear stress measurements showed that the mean bed shear stress increases tremendously (with respect to that in the approaching wave boundary layer), by as much as a factor of 8, in the runup and rundown stages, and that the r.m.s. value of the fluctuating component of the bed shear stress is also affected, by as much as a factor of 2, in the runup and hydraulic jump stages. The pore-water pressure measurements showed that the sediment at (or near) the surface of the bed experiences upward-directed pressure gradient forces during the downrush phase. The magnitude of this force can reach values as much as approximately 30% of the submerged weight of the sediment. The experiments further showed that the sediment transport occurs in the sheet flow regime for a substantial portion of the beach covering the area where the entire sequence of the wave breaking takes place. The bed morphology is explained qualitatively in terms of the measured bed shear stress and the pressure gradient forces.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)C01008
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Turbulent flow
  • Solitary waves
  • Beach
  • Wind power meteorology
  • Breaking waves
  • Waves
  • Sediment transport
  • Wind Energy


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