Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulations of reef surf zone processes driven by plunging irregular waves

R. J. Lowe, C. Altomare, M. L. Buckley, R. F. da Silva, J. E. Hansen, D. P. Rijnsdorp, J. M. Domínguez, A. J.C. Crespo

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8 Citations (Scopus)


As waves interact with the slopes of coral reefs and other steep bathymetry profiles, plunging breaking usually occurs where the free surface overturns and violent water motion is triggered. Resolving these surf zone processes pose significant challenges for conventional mesh-based hydrodynamic models, due to the rapidly-deforming nature of the free surface and associated flows. Yet the accurate prediction of these surf zone hydrodynamics is critical for predicting a wide range of nearshore processes driven by wave breaking (e.g., wave dissipation and energy transfers; mean water levels and currents; and wave runup). In this study we assess the ability of the mesh-free, Lagrangian particle-based numerical modelling approach Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) based on DualSPHysics, to simulate the fine-scale hydrodynamic processes driven by irregular wave transformation over a fringing reef profile, by comparing results against detailed experimental observations from a physical modelling study. To greatly improve the computational efficiency, the SPH model was coupled to the mesh-based multi-layer nonhydrostatic wave-flow model SWASH. With this coupled approach, SWASH was used to efficiently simulate the evolution of non-breaking waves from the wavemaker up to the fore reef slope, with the SPH model then used to simulate the detailed hydrodynamic processes over the reef from just offshore of the breakpoint to the shoreline. The SPH model was able to accurately reproduce the complex free surface deformations during plunging breaking, the spectral evolution of waves across the reef flat (including nonlinear wave shape), the mean water levels and currents, and wave runup at the shoreline. Using the long duration simulations (>400 wave periods), the model was able to reproduce the full range of wave motions over the reef (from sea-swell to infragravity frequencies), including the increasing dominance of low frequency waves towards the shoreline and the large cross-reef standing wave motions excited by the reef geometry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101945
JournalOcean Modelling
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


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