Divergent response of an intertidal swash bar

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Earth Surface Processes and Landforms





First Page



Intertidal, Morphodynamics, Surf zone hydrodynamics, Suspended sediment transport, Swash bar

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This paper examines the processes responsible for the morphodynamics of an intertidal swash bar at Skallingen, Denmark, during seven successive storms (one with a large surge of +3-02 m DNN). During this period a subtidal bar migrated landward onto the foreshore and continued to migrate across the intertidal zone as a swash bar. The onshore migration of the inner subtidal bar resulted from the erosion of sediment from the upper foreshore and dune ramp during the large storm surge that was transported seaward, causing the landward displacement of the bar through accretion on the landward slope. The magnitude and direction of suspended sediment transport within the intertidal zone, and more specifically at and close to the crest of the swash bar, varied with the ratio of both the significant (Hs) and average (Havg) wave heights to the water depth (hcr) at the swash bar crest (the local depth minimum). The transition between onshore and offshore suspended sediment transport was associated with the average wave of the incident distribution breaking on the swash bar crest (Havghcr -1 ≈ 0.33). While the onshore-directed transport was largest at infragravity frequencies, sediment resuspension was best explained by the skewed accelerations under the surf bores. Offshore transport was dominated by the cross-shore mean currents (undertow) that developed when the significant wave of the distribution broke on the swash bar crest (Hshcr -1 ≈ 0.33) and weakened as the average wave of the distribution started to break at the crest (H avghcr -1 ≈ 0.33) and the surf zone approached saturation. In contrast to subtidal bars, the swash bar at Skallingen exhibited a divergent behaviour with respect to the cross-shore position of the breaker zone, migrating onshore when the average wave broke seaward of the crest and migrating offshore when the average wave broke landward of the crest. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.