Rock topography causes spatial variation in the wave, current and beach response to sea breeze activity

Shari Gallop, Cyprien Bosserelle, Charitha Pattiaratchi, I. Eliot

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    31 Citations (Scopus)


    We hypothesized that beach profiles that are perched on natural rock structures would be better protected from waves and currents than profiles that are not fronted by rock. In southwest Western Australia many beaches, such as at Yanchep, are perched on Quaternary limestone. Yanchep Lagoon is fronted by a low-crested limestone reef that partially encloses a coastal lagoon. The spatial variation of waves and currents around the rock structures were quantified during the sea breeze cycle at locations: (1) offshore; (2) 20 m seaward of the reef; (3) inside the lagoon; and (4) in the surf zone. The spatial variation in the beach profile response was measured at two beach profiles: (1) the Exposed Profile that was not fronted directly seaward by outcropping limestone; and (2) the Sheltered Profile which was fronted seaward by submerged limestone at 2 m water depth and that was near the lagoon exit at the end of the limestone reef. The Sheltered Profile had greater volume changes during the cycle of the sea breeze whilst the Exposed Profile recovered more by overnight accretion when wind decreased. The lagoonal current drove the strong response of the Sheltered Profile and may have contributed to the lack of overnight recovery of the beach together with the seaward rock formation impeding onshore sediment transport. The different direction and speed responses of bottom-currents in the surf zone fronting the two profiles reflected the local variation in geology, the influence of the jet exiting the lagoon, and wave refraction around the reef that was measured with GPS drifters and wave-ray tracing using XBeach. Major spatial variation in waves, currents and beachface behavior at this perched beach shows the importance of the local geological setting.

    ©2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-40
    JournalMarine Geology
    Issue number1-4
    Early online date18 Oct 2011
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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