Beach cusp morphodynamics

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Detailed measurements of three-dimensional beach cusp morphology were made on a steep gradient, low energy, microtidal beach in Perth, Western Australia. During the held campaign a variety of wave conditions and tidal ranges were experienced, and these differing hydrodynamic conditions were reflected in a consistent pattern of morphological changes to the beach cusp system. A useful parameter to delineate between trends of cusp destruction and re-formation appeared to be the surf similarity parameter xi=tan beta/root H-0/L-0, where H-0 is offshore wave height, L-0 is deep water wave length and tan beta is beach gradient. For xi1.2.A small storm was experienced at the start of the field campaign period and resulted in considerable erosion of the beach face. The cusp morphology across the lower beachface was destroyed, but a subtle remnant of the pre-storm cusp morphology was preserved on the upper beachface. When cusps reformed after the storm, under the influence of declining wave conditions, they appeared at the same location and with the same dimensions as the pre-storm cusp morphology. Hence, it is considered that the cusp re-formation was controlled more by the antecedent morphology than the hydrodynamic conditions. This indicates that positive feedback between swash hydrodynamics and beachface morphology, necessary to form beach cusps, does not require a large variation in relief. (C) 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1139-1155
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1997


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