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Hydro- and morpho-dynamic modeling of breaking solitary waves over a fine sand

beach. Part II: Numerical simulation
Heng Xiao
, Yin Lu Young
⁎, Jean H. Prévost
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
a b s t r a c t a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history:
Received 12 December 2008
Received in revised form 29 November 2009
Accepted 13 December 2009
Available online 21 December 2009
Communicated by J.T. Wells
solitary wave
sediment transport
mobile bed
morpho-dynamic modeling
wave–soil interaction
A comprehensive numerical model is developed to predict the transient wave propagation, sediment
transport, morphological change, and the elastodynamic responses of seabed due to breaking solitary waves
runup and drawdown over a sloping beach. The individual components of the numerical model are first
validated against previous analytical, numerical, and experimental results. The validated numerical model is
then used to simulate breaking solitary wave runup and drawdown over a fine sand beach, where the
experimental results are presented in (Young et al. 2010b. Hydro- and morpho-dynamic modeling of
breaking solitary waves over a fine sand beach. Part I: Experimental study). The strengths and weaknesses of
the model are assessed through comparisons with the experimental data. Based on the results, sediment
transport mechanisms and wave–seabed interactions in the nearshore region are discussed.
© 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction and literature review
Tsunamis could lead to great losses among the population near the
coast within the reach of wave runup and subsequent flooding. In
addition to hydrodynamic and debris impact, tsunamis could also
erode the coastlines and the soil supporting structural foundations
and roadways. In severe cases, structure collapse or soil failure
(liquefaction and slope instability) can occur. To fully assess the
impact of tsunamis, a comprehensive numerical model describing the
nearshore transformation of the waves, the wave-induced sediment
transport, and the transient responses of the sediment bed is needed.
In this section, previous research in each of the three aspects listed
above is first reviewed, and the research needs are identified.
1.1. Wave propagation
The propagation of waves has been a subject of research for over a
century. Classical works include the analytical model by Carrier and
Greenspan (1958) and the extensions along this line (e.g. Tuck and
Hwang, 1972). More recently, Carrier et al. (2003) developed a more
flexible analytical solution for wave runup on a plane beach. However,
analytical solutions often suffer fromsevere limitations such as simple
geometries, restricted initial conditions, and small steepness ratios
due to the complexity of the problem (Carrier and Greenspan, 1958;
Carrier et al., 2003). Therefore, analytical solutions usually only serve
as benchmark cases for numerical models.
Most numerical models for water wave transformations fall into
one of the following three categories according to the assumptions
(Lin and Liu, 2000): depth-averaged models, potential flow models,
and Navier Stokes (NS) equation based models, arranged in the order
of increasing flexibility, complexity, and computational cost. Potential
flow models are not suitable for simulating breaking waves since the
irrotational flow assumption is not valid during wave breaking. NS-
based models (including Reynolds averaged NS simulations, large
eddy simulations, and direction numerical simulations), on the other
hand, are computationally expensive, and surface tracking or interface
capturing methods are needed to locate the moving free surface. The
objective of this work is to improve the understanding and the
modeling capability of the global interactions between waves,
sediments, and soil beds, and thus a depth-averaged model is
sufficient to simulate the wave propagation and transformation.
1.2. Cross-shore sediment transport
Sediment transport models are important in studying the
evolution of beach profiles. Many models of different complexities
have been proposed, validated, and used. Schoonees and Theron
(1995) gave a comprehensive review and evaluation of ten cross-
Marine Geology 269 (2010) 119–131
⁎ Corresponding author.
E-mail address: ylyoung@umich.edu (Y.L. Young).
Current address: Institute of Fluid Dynamics, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland.
0025-3227/$ – see front matter © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Marine Geology
j our nal homepage: www. el sevi er. com/ l ocat e/ mar geo
shore sediment transport and morphological change models used in
coastal engineering research and practices. Sediment transport
models are also used in the studies of river dynamics. Cao and Carling
(2002) reviewed various empirical relations used for the modeling of
alluvial rivers. Despite significant research efforts from both commu-
nities, the mechanisms of the sediment transport processes are still
not fully understood due to the wide variety of hydrodynamic,
morphological, and geological conditions. The assumptions based on
the data and conditions for one study may not be applicable for
Most early sediment transport models employed energy flux
approaches such as the CERC equation (USACE, 1984). A more recent
development is the force balance approach, where sediment transport
fluxes are modeled as functions of local hydrodynamic and bed
conditions, which is more suitable for wave–sediment coupling. For
example, Cao et al. (2004) used empirical erosion and deposition
models based on local flow and bed conditions, and coupled the
sediment transport model with fluid motions to predict erosion
caused by dam break flows. Simpson and Castelltort (2006) extended
the work of Cao et al. (2004) to 2D and predicted the morphological
changes caused by a train of long period waves running over a plane
beach. The simulation of Simpson and Castelltort (2006) showed
erosion immediately seaward of shoreline and deposition further
seaward of the erosion region. This pattern does not agree with the
experimental results of Kobayashi and Lawrence (2004) and Young
et al. (2010b-this issue) for solitary waves, where erosion was con-
sistently observed above the still water level, and deposition zone was
formed slightly seaward of shoreline. Although a direct assessment
of Simpson and Castelltort (2006) results is not possible since these
studies used different particle diameters, the difference between
predicted and observed morphological change patterns warrants fur-
ther investigations.
Although force balance based models often formulated the
sediment transport rate as a function of the Shields parameter,
which can be considered as a ratio of horizontal forces (viscous and
turbulent shear) and vertical forces (gravity and buoyancy) imposed
on a particle, several modifications have been proposed. The studies of
Drake and Calantoni (2001), Hoefel and Elgar (2003) and Puleo et al.
(2003), among others, suggested that fluid acceleration played an
important role in sediment transport. Madsen and Durham (2007)
studied the effect of subsurface horizontal pressure gradient induced
by breaking waves. Nielsen (1997) showed that there were two
competing effects caused by exfiltration, i.e. the reduction of effective
weight due to upward seepage and the reduction of horizontal shear
stresses on the particles due to the increase of the boundary layer
thickness (and opposite effects by infiltration). He suggested a modi-
fied Shields parameter to accommodate the two effects. Later, Nielsen
et al. (2001) conducted flume experiments with nonbreaking waves,
which found that infiltration impeded sediment motion for 0.2-mm
quartz. Based on the modified Shields parameter formulation
introduced in Nielsen (1997), they concluded that seepage could
impede or enhance sediment mobility depending on the particle
diameter and the hydraulic gradient. Similarly, Turner and Masselink
(1998) conducted field measurements to quantify the two competing
effects. Simulations were conducted based on the formulation of
modified Shields parameter proposed according to their field
observations. The results showed that the infiltration increased
transport rate during runup and the exfiltration reduced transport
rate during drawdown, but the former dominated and thus the net
effect of filtration was enhancement of the net upslope transport of
sediment. In both cases, the effect of particle sizes was not studied,
and thus the experiments were not able lend direct support to the
theoretical derivations.
Pritchard and Hogg (2005) developed an analytical solution for the
sediment transport of suspended sediment by a swash event caused
by a bore collapse on a plane beach. With their exact solutions, the
sediment entrainment in the swash zone and the sediment contribu-
tion during the bore collapse are identified. The asymmetry between
uprush and backwash events and the settling lag effects are
investigated for their roles in determining the onshore and offshore
net sediment transport. Their solution revealed important physical
insights in the swash zone sediment transport processes and provided
baseline benchmarks for future studies.
It can be seen that the sediment transport is a very complicated
process with many contributing factors. Although numerous modified
formulations have been proposed, many researchers still use the
classical models based solely on Shields parameters, and occasionally
on particle Reynolds number (e.g. Cao et al., 2004; Simpson and
Castelltort, 2006). This conservative approach is probably due to the
lack of systematic validation studies of the new models for different
hydrodynamic, morphological, and geological conditions. In addition,
most previous research efforts in sediment transport have been
directed toward wind waves, currents, or river flows. Much less has
been done for tsunami induced sediment transport and associated
wave–seabed interactions in the nearshore region.
In this study, the erosion model first proposed by Meyer-Peter and
Müller (1948) is adopted because of its simplicity and because it is
one of the most referenced models. Deposition and erosion fluxes are
modeled separately since the two processes are governed by different
physical mechanisms (Cao et al., 2004; Simpson and Castelltort,
2006). The results obtained using Meyer-Peter and Müller (1948)
model is compared to those from the modified Shields parameter
formulation of Nielsen et al. (2001). Discussion of the comparison of
the two models is presented in Section 5.
1.3. Wave-induced seabed response
Wave–seabed interactions have been heavily researched and the
literature is abundant. An excellent recent review was given by Jeng
(2003), summarizing previous work on seabed dynamics induced by
waves, including analytical, numerical and experimental studies. This
problem is typically formulated in the framework of porous media
(Biot, 1941; Coussy, 2004), where the constituents (sand grains,
water, and for unsaturated cases, air) are assumed to be individual
continua, all interpenetrating each other and occupying the whole
domain, each being regarded as a phase.
The approach adopted in this work utilizes tools and knowledge
developed in both coastal engineering and soil mechanics com-
munities. Therefore, in this paper, “sediment” and “soil” are used
interchangeably to refer to the bed material. In both the physical
and numerical simulations, the beds consist of cohesionless sand
particles with negligible amounts of organic material, and the inter-
particle pores are filled with varying amounts of water and air.
The structure formed by solid grains is referred to as “matrix” or
The responses of the soil matrix and the pore fluid are intrinsically
coupled, that is, the change of deformation and stress state of one
phase would influence those of other phases. Only under special
circumstances (e.g. rigid skeleton, incompressible fluid, or one-
dimensional strain state) could they be uncoupled.
Recently, research efforts have been directed toward advancing
the understanding of the constitutive behaviors of the sand bed under
repeated or extreme loads where nonlinear soil behavior, liquefaction,
and slope instability are important. For example, liquefaction of sand
beds due to progressive waves was studied experimentally with a
centrifuge (Sassa and Sekiguchi, 1999) and latter numerically with
finite element methods (Sassa and Sekiguchi, 2001). In addition, the
propagation of liquefied zones in sand bed under progressive wave
loading was studied using a simplified theoretical model and
validated experimentally by Sassa et al. (2001). However, these
studies were concerned with progressive wave loading over a flat bed.
Hence, the responses and failure of coastal slopes due to long wave
120 H. Xiao et al. / Marine Geology 269 (2010) 119–131
runup and drawdown were not considered. Young et al. (2009a)
investigated the influence of solitary wave runup and drawdown on
the soil responses using an uncoupled wave–soil model. The wave
model was the same as the one presented here, but the sediment
transport processes were not considered.
In most tsunamis, there are only two or three waves that arrive
onshore. Although the wave periods are long, the event durations of
tsunamis are usually much shorter than those of storms. Therefore,
the nonlinear behaviors of soil are not as significant. The focus of this
work is on the wave–seabed interactions. Hence, the soil is assumed
to be linear elastic, and the u
-p formulation is used, where the
displacements of soil skeleton (u
) and the pore pressure (p) are fully
coupled (Coussy, 2004). The systemof equations for u
and p is solved
with finite element method in a fully coupled approach (Prévost,
1997). More details are presented in Section 2.2.
1.4. Objectives
The objectives of this study are to develop and validate a
comprehensive numerical model to predict the transient hydrody-
namics, sediment transport and bed profile changes, as well as bed
responses in the nearshore region under the impact of breaking
solitary waves. By complementing the experimental studies pre-
sented in (Young et al., 2010b-this issue), the goal is to improve the
understanding of sediment transport mechanisms and bed responses,
particularly due to breaking solitary waves runup and drawdown over
a fine sand beach.
2. Mathematical formulation and numerical methods
2.1. Wave propagation coupled with sediment transport
Nonlinear shallow water equations (NSWE) have been used by
many researchers to study the long wave propagation near the coast
where the water is relatively shallow compared to the wave length
(e.g. Zoppou and Roberts, 2000; Kimet al., 2004; Wei et al., 2006). The
scalar transport equation is used to describe the sediment transport in
the water, and thus the coupled NSWE and sediment transport model
for a 2D problem can be written as (Cao et al., 2004):
= S ð1Þ
where the conservative variable U, the flux F, and the source term S
are, respectively,
U = ½h; hu; hcŠ
F = ½uh; u
h + gh
=2; hucŠ
S =
; −ghðS
+ S
; q
_ _
where t is the time; h is the water depth; u is the depth-averaged
velocity; c is the depth-averaged sediment concentration; ϕ is the bed
porosity; S
is the source term representing bottom slope, i.e. S
dx, where z is the bed elevation. S
is the source term due to bottom
friction, which is modeled as follows:
uj uj
where n is Manning's roughness coefficient. In the dry portion of the
bed where the water depth h is almost zero, S
is set to zero. q
and q
are, respectively, the sediment erosion and deposition fluxes, which
also needs to be modeled and will be discussed in Section 2.1.2.
2.1.1. Boussinesq equations: corrections for dispersion effects
When the wave is propagating from a distance far away from the
shoreline, the dispersion effect is important and the NSWE is not
suitable. Therefore, a Boussinesq model accounting for the dispersion
is necessary. Among others, Madsen et al. (1991) and Madsen and
Sørensen (1992) derived a Boussinesq-type equation with the
advantage of enhanced linear characteristic and relatively few
additional terms (Borthwick et al., 2006). To account for dispersion
effects, the conservative variable U and the source term S need to be
modified while the flux F remains the same. The modified conserva-
tive variable and source term are denoted as U

and S

, respectively,
and have the following form:
U* =
hu + B +
_ _
Boussinesq terms
S* =
+ S
+ Bgd
+ 2Bgd
Boussinesq terms
where B is the dispersion coefficient, which is taken as 1/15
(Borthwick et al., 2006); η is the wave elevation; and d=h−η is
the still water level. The subscripts x, xx, and xxx indicate the first-,
second-, and third-order derivatives, respectively. The additional
terms does not need special treatments and the numerical schemes
for NSWE can be easily extended to Boussinesq equations.
In this study, the Boussinesq equations above are solved before the
wave breaks. During and after the wave breaking, the Boussinesq
terms are turned off to avoid numerical instability caused by the high
order derivatives in the dispersion terms, and the NSWE is thus
recovered. The breaking criterion is defined as the water surface slope
being greater than 20°, or equivalently dη/dx>0.36 (Borthwick et al.,
2.1.2. Empirical modeling of erosion and deposition fluxes
The deposition flux is modeled as a function of the near-bed
sediment concentration, C
, and the particle settling velocity, ω
, in
quiescent water, following Cao et al. (2004):
= ω
where the exponent m=2.0 is adopted. The local near-bed sediment
concentration is modeled as C
=αc, where α=min (2.0, (1−ϕ)/c).
The upper limit is set to ensure that the volume fraction of sand in the
water does not exceed that in the bed. The erosion flux is formulated as:
= Re
if θ > θ
0 if θ ≤θ
where θ is the Shields parameter; Re
is the particle Reynolds number
defined as Re
= d
= ν, that is, the Reynolds number
basedonmeanparticle diameter (d
) andthe relative velocity between
a freely settling particle and its surrounding calm water. The particle
Reynolds number characterizes the flow type around the particle
(laminar for small Re
and turbulent for large Re
). The fall velocity, ω
121 H. Xiao et al. / Marine Geology 269 (2010) 119–131
is the terminal velocity of a single particle when released into quiescent
water (that is, when the gravity of the particle and the water resistance
balance). A
is a dimensionless coefficient; s=ρ

; ρ
is the density of
the particle; ρ
is the density of the water; d
is the mean particle
diameter. θ
=0.045 is the critical Shields parameter, below which no
erosion occurs. θ is Shields parameter defined as:
θ =
where u
is the friction velocity and is defined as u
= ρ
with τ

being the bed shear stress. The erosion flux in
Eq. (9) follows that of Meyer-Peter and Müller (1948) except for a
constant dimensionless factor A
, which is used to account for the
influence of bed compactness (porosity).
The erosion flux model presented above was originally proposed
for steady state river-type flows. The hydraulic gradient in the bed
(and thus the infiltration and exfiltration) was not considered. To
account for this effect, Nielsen et al. (2001) introduced a modified
Shields parameter, θ
_ _
_ _: ð11Þ
The two dimensionless constants are α=16 and β=0.4, which
were determined by previous experimental studies (Conley and
Douglas, 1994); w is the exfiltration velocity, which can be calculated
according to the hydraulic gradient at the bed surface according to
Darcy's law, which in turn can be obtained from the soil solver
presented in Section 2.2; k
is the hydraulic conductivity of the soil.
2.1.3. Morphological evolution
All the morphological changes are assumed to be caused by wave-
induced sediment transport, and thus the bed evolves solely due to
erosion and deposition fluxes. Therefore, the following equation is
used to describe the elevation change of the bed:
where z is the bed surface elevation.
2.1.4. Treatment of the wave breaking process
Wave breaking plays an important role in the wave propagation and
sediment transport processes because of its energy dissipation and
sediment entrainment capability. However, detailed modeling of the
breaking process poses great difficulties for numerical models. In this
study, the wave-breaking process is not modeled explicitly, but the
energy dissipation caused by wave breaking is accounted for implicitly.
Specifically, the breakingwave is representedas a discontinuity of water
depth and velocity in the solution. Whenever discontinuities occur in
the solution, the numerical methods as detailed in Section 2.1.5 would
dissipate more energy than for smooth solutions. Good correlations
between wave breaking and energy dissipation have been observed in
our simulations, but further investigations are needed to compare the
numerical energy dissipation and the physical energy dissipation.
The sediment entrainment due to wave breaking is not explicitly
accounted for. The sediment entrainment in the surf zone (including
the wave-breaking zone and bore runup region) is treated in the same
way as in the swash zone using the erosion model in Eq. (9). However,
since the wave-breaking zone is generally associated with larger
Shields parameter, the erosion flux in this region is thus larger than
elsewhere. This can be interpreted as an implicit treatment of wave
breaking induced sediment suspension, although the detailed physics
is not modeled. This is illustrated in Section 4.2 with a plot of Shields
parameters (Eqs. (10) and (11)) during wave breaking in Fig. 9.
2.1.5. Numerical methods for the wave–sediment system
Finite volume method is used to solve the system of equations
describing the wave–sediment interactions. A second order Godunov-
type scheme with shock-capturing weight averaged flux (WAF) is
used (Fraccarollo and Toro, 1995; Kim et al., 2004). At the interface of
two wet cells, an approximate Riemann solver HLLC is used
(Fraccarollo and Toro, 1995), which is based on the Harten–Lax–van
Leer (HLL) Riemann solver developed by Harten et al. (1983) but with
improved performance for contact discontinuity problems (such as
the sediment concentration in this system). At the dry–wet interface,
in place of the HLLC Riemann solver, an exact Riemann solver with
front speed from the analytical solution is used (Toro, 2000). A
threshold water depth is chosen to be 0.1% of the maximumstill water
depth, below which the cell is considered as dry.
To ensure numerical stability, the Courant–Friedrichs–Lewy (CFL)
number is limited to a value smaller than 1. The sediment terms
tend to impair the convergence performance of the system, and thus
smaller step size is necessary.
To simulate the far field boundary at sea, a transmissive boundary
condition is implemented. To achieve this, the two Riemann in-
variants r
and r
are extrapolated along characteristic lines at the
transmissive boundary. Specifically, for shallow water flows:
≡ u−2
= const along
= u−
≡u + 2
= const along
= u +
2.2. Soil deformation and pore pressure
The soil skeleton and the pore water in the sediment bed are
modeled in the framework of poromechanics theory (Coussy, 2004).
The soil deposit is assumed to be fully saturated (with either water or
air). The following equations are solved:
∇⋅σ + ½ð1−ϕÞρ
+ ϕρ
Šf = 0 ð14Þ
+ ∇⋅ðρ
Þ = 0 ð15Þ

= b∇⋅v
: ð16Þ
The following relation is assumed for pore fluid flux according to
Darcy's law:
= −
f Š: ð17Þ
Biot's coefficient b and modulus N are defined as (Coussy, 2004):
b = 1−
; and
where σ is the total stress tensor of the mixture; ϕ is the bed porosity
(same as that defined in wave–sediment simulator in Section 2.1); ϕ
is the initial porosity; ρ
and ρ
are the solid and fluid density; f is the
body force (gravity in this study); p
is the pore fluid pressure; q
is the
mass flux of the pore fluid; v
is the solid velocity; k is the intrinsic
permeability tensor of the soil skeleton; μ
is the dynamics viscosity of
122 H. Xiao et al. / Marine Geology 269 (2010) 119–131
the pore fluid; K
and K
are the bulk moduli of the fluid and the solid
constituents, respectively.
For saturated porous media, the change of fluid density is related
to the change of pore pressure by

= C
where C
is the pore fluid compressibility.
The density of the pore fluid ρ
is taken to be the water density

) in the wet region below the water table and to be the air density

) in the region above the water table. The pore water compress-
ibility is obtained by accounting for the air dissolved in the pore water,
which results in the increase of effective fluid compressibility
compared with pure water. The compressibility of pore water is
estimated according to Verruijt (1969) as follows:
= S
where S
is the degree of saturation of water in the pores, C
is the
compressibility of pure water (4.6×10
/N), and p
is the abso-
lute pressure of the air (the atmospheric pressure, 10
Pa). The time
step size is determined according to Δt =0.003T
, where T
is the
characteristic consolidation time scale defined as:
K +
where K and G are the bulk and shear moduli of the soil skeleton,
which can be expressed in terms of Young's modulus E and Poisson
ratio ν of the soil as K=E/[3(1−2ν)] and G=E/[2(1+ν)]. L
is the
shortest drainage path (represented by the maximum soil depth).
The solid stress and velocity are expressed in terms of solid
displacement field u
as follows:
σ = σ
δ ð22Þ
= C :
= ∇
and the fluid pressure is written as
= p
+ p
where C is the constitutive tensor (fourth-order); The symbol “:”
denotes the contraction product of two tensors; ε
strain of the
skeleton; ∇
∇)/2 is the symmetric part of tensor ∇u
; δ
is the second order unit tensor; p
is the initial fluid pressure; p
is the
excess pore pressure; Eq. (22) shows that the total stress of the
mixture (σ) is decomposed into effective stress acting on the soil
skeleton (σ
) and pressure carried by the pore fluid (p
). In Eq. (25),
the pore pressure, p
, is decomposed into an initial hydrostatic
component, p
, and an excessive component, p
The equations above are solved with a finite element program,
DYNAFLOW (Prévost, 1983a). The details of DYNAFLOW can be found
in (Prévost, 1983b, 1997), where various validation cases were also
As explained in Section 1, the nonlinear constitutive behavior of
the soil skeleton and the potential of bed slope failure are neglected in
the present calculations. Interested reader should refer to (Young
et al., 2009a) on this topic. In the present study, the wave loads on the
bed are assumed to be small enough and the duration of the loading is
short so that the soil behaves linear elastically and no failure model is
necessary. The focus is on the nearly saturated sand bed in the
nearshore region. Since the rate of wave loading and unloading is
much faster than the movement of the pore fluid, the subsurface
water table is assumed to be flat and stationary throughout the wave
loading cycle. The dynamics of the vadose zone (defined as the
unsaturated portion above the initial subsurface water table) where
capillary effects and the interferences between water and air flows do
play important roles is a subject of future work.
2.3. Coupling between the components
Based on the experimental observations, the amount of the
morphological change is negligibly small compared to the extent of the
soil domain and thus the bed surface profile in the soil simulation is not
updated. However, the bed profile changes may not be negligible
compared to the depth of the water column, particularly near the
maximum runup region. Hence, the wave–sediment transport and bed
evolution models are fully coupled. The amount of mass and momentum
exchange between the wave and the subsurface flow is negligible
because the infiltration and exfiltration velocities are very small
comparedto the depth-averagedwave velocities. Therefore, the coupling
between the wave and the subsurface hydrodynamics is neglected in the
present calculation.
3. Validation and calibration of numerical models
3.1. Validation of wave simulator
The NSWE wave simulator has been validated against numerous
cases. A benchmark case composed from the analytical solution of
Carrier et al. (2003) is shown here. In this case, a nonbreaking solitary
wave runs up over a smooth bed with a constant slope. The wave
profiles from three different time instances and the horizontal
excursion history of the shoreline are shown in Fig. 1. The simulation
results agree very well with the analytical solutions.
The wave solver has been also validated against the experimental
studies by Synolakis (1987), where a solitary wave with relative wave
height of H/d=0.3 runs up over a rigid, impermeable slope of 1:19.85.
The initial water depth is d=1 m. The toe of the slope is located at
x=19.85 m and the initial wave is centered at x=24.42 m. The
comparisonis showninFig. 2. Also showninthe figure is the numerical
solution of NSWE by Wei et al. (2006). When the dispersion terms are
turned off, the current solutions are almost identical to that of Wei et
al. (2006), whichis expectedsince bothmodels usedsimilar numerical
methods. The current Boussinesq-NSWE model predicted that wave-
breaking occurs at around the normalized time t
g = d
≈19, which is
very close to the experimental results reported in (Synolakis, 1987),
while a pure NSWE solver tends to predict earlier breaking (Wei et al.,
2006). In the pre-breaking snapshot at t
g = d
= 15 (top left plot in
Fig. 2), the improvement is significant when the dispersion effects are
included. However, both numerical solutions agreed well with
experimental measurements post-breaking.
3.2. Calibration of the sediment transport model
Various sediment transport models were investigated by compar-
ing the numerical predictions with the experimental results of
Kobayashi and Lawrence (2004) and Young et al. (2010b-this issue).
The combination of deposition and erosion fluxes in Eqs. (8) and (9)
was found to give good results and was adopted. To accommodate
different bed conditions, a coefficient A
is introduced into the Meyer-
Peter and Müller (1948) model (see Eq. (9)), which depends only on
the bed compactness (porosity). Note that A
is not a fudge factor. The
wave–sediment interactions as given in Eqs. (1), (8), and (9)
represent a highly nonlinear and coupled process. Hence, it is not
123 H. Xiao et al. / Marine Geology 269 (2010) 119–131
possible to fit the numerical predictions to the experimental results by
adjusting a single parameter if the essential dynamics of the coupled
processes were not modeled correctly.
The numerical model with erosion and deposition described in
Section 2.1 was used to simulate the case of three 30-cm solitary
waves runup and drawdown over a wave-modified 1:15 slope bed.
The bed profiles before and after the waves, as well as the amount of
morphological change are shown in Fig. 3. A
=0.35 was used in this
calculation, and is also used for the 60-cm solitary wave validation
study shown later in Section 4.
As shown in Fig. 3, the erosion and deposition patterns compare well
with the experimental measurements, especially considering the
complexity of the process. The deposition region, the erosion region, as
well as the transition point of the two regions are all captured correctly.
4. Comparison of numerical predictions and
experimental measurements
4.1. Model setup and parameters
The numerical model presented above was used to simulate the
case of a 60-cm breaking solitary wave runup and drawdown over a
wave-modified 1:15 plane slope beach. The wave conditions and
bathymetry in the simulation followed exactly with the experiments,
which has been described in detail in (Young et al., 2010b-this issue).
The experimental setup is briefly summarized in Fig. 4 for complete-
ness. The left panel shows the general setup. The right panel shows
the nominal and actual bed profiles as well as the locations of the
sensors where numerical results are compared with experimental
In the numerical simulation, a solitary wave with initial height of
H=60 cm was centered at x
=10 m at t =0 s over an initial offshore
water depth d=1 m. The initial condition was estimated according to
Tivoli and Synolakis (1995):
ηðx; 0Þ = Hsech
uðx; 0Þ = ηðx; 0Þ
g = d
: ð27Þ
The computational domain ranged from x=0 m to x=42 m. A
uniform mesh was used with 1000 cells with size Δx=0.042 m. The
CFL number C
=0.5 was used. The time step size was dynamically
adjusted according to the maximumvelocity (v
) in the systemand
the CFL number, i.e. dt =C
. Manning's coefficient (n) was
taken to be 0.008. Since the wave did not reach the right boundary at
x=42 m during the simulation and during the experiment, the water
depth and flow velocity were set to zero at this boundary. On the left
boundary at x=0 m, a “blended” reflective and transmissive
boundary was used, assuming 75% refection.
For the soil simulation, as with most soil mechanics problems, it is
assumed here that the bulk modulus of the soil grain was much larger
than that of the soil matrix, and thus 1/N≈0 and b≈1. Other material
parameters used in the computation are presented in Table 1.
The unsaturated zone was modeled by using the fluid properties
(density and viscosity) of air. This treatment essentially assumed no
infiltration or exfiltration occurred at the bed surface and thus might
not give accurate results in the unsaturated zone, but it would not
significantly affect the accuracy of the nearly saturated zone belowthe
water table.
At the top boundary of the bed, on which the wave force acts, the
pressure was set to the hydrostatic pressure corresponding to the
instant wave height of the water column, and the effective stress was
set to be zero. Therefore, the boundary conditions on the top were
ðxÞ = ρ
ghðx; tÞ ð28Þ
⋅n = −p
ðx; tÞ ð29Þ
where n is the outward normal of the bed surface. At other
boundaries, where the bed was in contact with the concrete wall
and flume bottom, respectively, the displacements normal to the wall
is set to be zero. The pressure gradients (and thus fluxes) normal to
the wall was also set to be zero. Initial pressure was set to be
hydrostatic. The displacement was initialized as follows: The domain
was first allowed to consolidate under gravity with the presence of the
hydrostatic pressure from the initial water column until the system
reached steady state, and then the displacements of the whole soil
domain were set to be zero.
4.2. Comparison to experiments and evaluation of the numerical model
Fig. 5 shows the numerical and experimental time series of water
surface elevations at four representative locations in the nearshore
region. The water surface elevations were measured by wave gauges
(WG) or distance sonics (DS). WG8 was located at x=23 m, where
wave breaking occurred. Wave gauge 10 was located x=25 m. The
Fig. 1. Comparison of the NSWE predictions to the analytical solution of (Carrier et al.,
2003). (a) Wave profiles at three time instances. (b) Runup history.
124 H. Xiao et al. / Marine Geology 269 (2010) 119–131
wave plunged between WG8 and WG10. After the wave breaking,
large amounts of bubble rich white water (referred to as bore) was
formed and rushed up onshore. WG12 and DS2, located at x=27 m
(nominal shoreline) and x=29 m, respectively, measured the
height of the bore. WG10 and PPS1–4 shared the same cross-
shore location at x=25 m; WG12 and PPS5–8 shared the same
cross-shore location of x=27 m. The time series of the pore
pressure will be presented later. The readers are referred to
(Young et al., 2010b-this issue) for details of the experiment and
the sensor deployment.
Fig. 2. The wave profiles predicted by the current hybrid NSWE-Boussinesq model compared to the predictions of a pure NSWE model (Wei et al., 2006) and experimental
measurements by Synolakis (1987).
125 H. Xiao et al. / Marine Geology 269 (2010) 119–131
Fig. 5 shows that the general trend of the water surface elevation
variations are captured satisfactorily. All three wave gauges (WG 8, 10,
and 12) show two distinct peaks resulted from wave runup and
drawdown, occurred at approximately t =3 s and t =13 s, respectively.
The heights of the two peaks were predicted by the numerical model
withgoodaccuracy. The exceptionwas thesecondpeakof WG10, which
was slightlyunderpredicted. This was probablybecause it was locatedat
a region where interactions between the waves reflected by the beach
andthe waves running onshore were significant. This effect couldnot be
modeled by the depth-averaged models (NSWE or Boussinesq). The
wave–wave interactions alsoexplainthe small wavelengthcomponents
present in the experiment but missing in the numerical results.
However, in general, the agreement was very good considering
complexity in the physical processes involving wave-breaking, bore
generation and collapse, and wave–wave interactions.
The cross-shore flow velocities and sediment concentrations are
presented in Fig. 6. The flow velocities and sediment concentrations
were measured by Acoustic Doppler Velocimeters (ADV) and Optical
Back-Scattering sensors (OBS). The velocity measurements are shown
in three representative locations: x=29 m (ADV5; 2 m onshore),
x=28 m (ADV4; 1 m onshore), and x=23 m (ADV8; 4 m offshore).
OBS4 and ADV8 were located 9 cm above the bed surface.
The experimental results for ADV5 and ADV4 shown in Fig. 6 still
contain some noises at t ≈5 s. As explained in (Young et al., 2010b-
this issue), this was because the two ADVs were initially dry. The data
Fig. 3. Morphological evolution caused by three consecutive 30-cm solitary waves
running over a nominally 1:15 beach (with 15min between the waves to allow the
water to return to a calm state). (a) The initial bed profile and that after three waves
(numerical and experimental). (b) The amount of morphological change by three
waves (numerical and experimental). The envelopes in thin dash lines are the total
deposition and erosion from the numerical simulation, the sum of which being net
change (solid line).
Fig. 4. (a) Schematic of the experimental setup and definition. Not to scale. (b) Nominal
1:15 bed profile (dashed line), actual bed profile (solid line), and the sensors (symbols).
Not to scale. Only the sensors relevant to the numerical study are shown. OBS4 is co-
located with ADV8 (at x=23 m, 9 cm above bed surface).
Table 1
Physical and computational parameters used in the sediment/soil simulation.
Young's modulus of skeleton (E) 1.5×10
Poisson's ratio of skeleton (ν) 0.2
Density of soil grains (ρ
) 2650 kg/m
Intrinsic permeabilityof skeleton(k) 1.5×10
Porosity of soil (ϕ) 0.4
Compressibility of pore water (C
) 2.5×10
Compressibility of air (C
) 1.0×10
Density of air (ρ
) 1.0×10
Density of water (ρ
) 1.03 kg/m
Dynamics viscosity of water (μ
) 1.0×10
kg m/s
Dynamics viscosity of air (μ
) 1.8×10
kg m/s
Soil domain (L×D) 30 m (horizontal)×2 m (vertical)
Element shape Four-node quadrilateral
Element type Linear elasticity and scalar diffusion
Number of elements 300 (horizontal)×40 (vertical)=12,000
Element width (Δy) 10 cm
Element height (Δx) Varying from2.3 cm(top) to 9.1 cm(bottom)
Time step size (Δt) 0.047 s
126 H. Xiao et al. / Marine Geology 269 (2010) 119–131
obtained during the time when they were suddenly submerged by the
water were of poor quality. Between t =5 s and 12 s when the
experimental data were of good quality, the agreement of between
the numerical and the experimental results were quite good except
for a slight shift. In particular, the deceleration/acceleration rate of the
runup and the initial stage of the drawdown were well predicted. The
deceleration/acceleration rate could be valuable for evaluating the
forces acting on the coastal structures during tsunami impact. Another
quantity of interests to engineers (for the same reason) is the
maximum runup velocity at the two onshore locations, which
occurred at approximately t =5 s. After t =12 s, as the water
retreated seaward during the drawdown and the water level dropped
below the ADVs, no signal was collected by the ADVs until the
reflected wave from the wave maker arrived at this location.
The bottomright panel of Fig. 6 shows that the sediment suspension
time predicted by the numerical simulation correlates well with the
experiments, although the exact amount of entrained sediment was not
correctly predicted by the numerical model. The second peak in the
experimental results is due to the sediment carried by the water during
the drawdown. The discrepancy between measured and predicted
sediment concentrations could be due to both the limitations of the
capability of the numerical model and the accuracy of the experimental
measurements (e.g., significant variations among different runs due to
the turbulent mixing). In particular, the numerical results for water
velocities and sediment concentrations were obtained based on the
depth-averaged values at the corresponding cross-shore locations,
while the experimental results were obtained from specific measure-
ment points. Due to the highly turbulent sediment mixing at this
location, the two values could be quite different for sediment
concentrations. It was visually observed during the experiments that
the sediment concentration distribution varies significantly along the
depth of the water column. On the other hand, the overall good
agreement between the numerical simulation and the experimental
measurements on the velocity (ADV5 in the top left panel, ADV4 in the
top right panel, and ADV8 in the bottom left panel, of Fig. 6) suggests
that the velocity distribution along the depth is close to uniform.
Therefore, the approximations made in the derivation of shallow water
equations are reasonably goodinthe scenarioof the experimental setup.
The measured and predicted pore pressure time series are
presented in Fig. 7. In spite of the sophistication of the numerical
model for the soil bed, the agreement was not excellent. This was due
to unavoidable spatial variations of physical soil bed properties. In
most experiments involving sediment, this one included, there are
usually large uncertainties in the physical properties of the sediment
due to the difficulties in obtaining the in situ parameters and the large
spatial variations of soil properties.
Fig. 5. Time series of water surface elevation at four representative locations. Comparison of numerical simulation and experimental results. Top left: WG8 (x=23 m). Top right:
WG10 (x=25 m). Bottom left: WG12 (x=27 m, nominal shoreline). Bottom right: DS12 (x=29 m). Locations of these sensors are shown in Fig. 4. The time origin is shifted by 4.4 s
compared to the figures in (Young et al., 2010b-this issue).
127 H. Xiao et al. / Marine Geology 269 (2010) 119–131
Inthe experimental validationstudies, we usedone set of results from
PPS7 to calibrate the fluid compressibility, and then used this value to
compute the results for all other pore pressure sensors. The permeability
of the soil was obtained from laboratory measurements of the sediment
samples taken from the bed. Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio were
obtained from values reported in the literature (Army Corps, 1990). The
results from the simulation and the experiments were then compared.
Fig. 7 shows reasonable agreement between the predicted and measured
pore pressure responses of PPS5–8. On the other hand, the agreement for
PPS1–4 results are not as good. The agreement can be improved by using
different material properties at this location (specifically, fluid compress-
ibility, soil porosity, Young's modulus, and Poisson's ratio), but ad hoc
adjustments are not particularly meaningful. Nevertheless, the qualita-
tive features of the pore pressure response are well captured by the
numerical model. Specifically, the following aspects are noted:
1. The decay of the pore pressure signal along the depth. Note the
blurring of the peaks and the decrease in magnitude from top to
bottom. This shows the diffusive nature of pore pressure evolution
in the sediment bed.
2. The initial sudden increase of the pore pressure (a kink) at t ∼4 s.
This is particularly obvious for the bottomPPSs (PPS1–2 and PPS5–
6). This kink was due to the compression of the soil skeleton which
reduced the pore space and led to pore pressure increases. The
pressure increase due to skeleton compression arrived earlier than
that caused by the pressure diffusion.
The morphological changes predicted by the simulation and those
measured from the experiments are compared in Fig. 8. The same
coefficients calibrated fromthe 30 cmwave experiments were used in
this prediction. The numerical results shown here were obtained with
the original Shields parameter given in Eq. (10). The Shields
parameter (Eq. (10)) and modified Shields parameter (Eq. (11)),
together with the wave and bed profiles, in the computational domain
during the initial period of the wave breaking (at t =2.94 s) are
shown in Fig. 9. Note the steep front of the wave profile at x≈22 m,
which represents wave breaking, and the resulting larger Shields
parameter values in this region. This correlation suggests that the
sediment suspension due to wave breaking is partly accounted for in
an implicit way by the erosion flux formula in Eq. (9). The role of
infiltration and exfiltration on the bed erosion flux will be presented
in Section 5. It is noted here that the Shields parameters computed
fromEqs. (10) and (11) are almost identical except in a region behind
the wave front (x=18 to 20 m). This is a region with upward seepage
Fig. 6. Time series of cross-shore velocities at three representative locations. Comparison of numerical simulation and experimental results. Top left: ADV5 (velocity at x=29 m and
3 cm above bed surface). Top right: ADV4 (velocity at x=28 m and 3 cm above bed surface). Bottom left: ADV8 (velocity at x=23 m and 9 cm above surface). Bottom right: OBS4
(concentration x=23 m; 9 cmabove bed surface. Co-located with ADV8). Locations of these sensors are shown in Fig. 4. The time origin is shifted by 4.4 s compared to the figures in
(Young et al., 2010b-this issue). Note that the numerical results were the depth-averaged values at the corresponding cross-shore locations, while the experimental results were
obtained from specific measurement points.
128 H. Xiao et al. / Marine Geology 269 (2010) 119–131
caused by the passage of the wave (which induced soil compression
immediately followed by decompression).
The erosion model was able to capture the bulk of the physical
process, which is evident from the good agreement of the erosion zone
on the shore face (x≈27.5–35 m), as shown in Fig. 8. The physics
contributed to the erosion in this region were high drawdown velocity
(upto3 m/s) andshallowwater depth(afewcentimeters), andpossibly
interactions with the permeable bed and fluid acceleration, among
others. From the erosion flux formulations (Eqs. (5), (9), and (10)), it
can be seen that both shallowwater depth and high velocity contribute
to high bed shear stress and consequently large erosion flux. Therefore,
the good agreement in the predicted erosion/deposition patters by the
numerical model and those measured from the experiments was
expected. As explainedin(Younget al., 2010b-this issue), thedeposition
in the wave-breaking region was caused by the large recirculation
region caused by the hydraulic jump. Although the depth-averaged
model couldnot accurately simulate the recirculating flow, it didpredict
a hydraulic jump at the end of the drawdown and sediment deposition
in this region due to the significant decrease of the flow velocity.
The thin layer of deposition at the runup tip (between x=35 mand
x=38.5 m) was also captured by the numerical model, consistent with
the experimental observations. The factors contributed to this deposi-
tion region included: shallow water depth, high sediment concentra-
tion, and most importantly, a brief period of flow stagnation during the
transition between runup and drawdown phases. These features were
all well represented by the numerical model.
In summary, the numerical simulation compared well with the
experimental measurements. Although the depth-averaged hydrody-
namic model and the sediment transport model are relatively simple,
the global physical behavior was well captured, particularly during
the runup and the initial stage of the drawdown. In the later stage of
the drawdown, the effects of wave–wave interactions and the
recirculation flow caused by hydraulic jump became significant,
which could not be captured using a depth-averaged model. However,
the overall prediction performance of the model is satisfactory for the
spatial and temporal domains of interest. As to the computation of bed
responses, the u
–p formulation is adequate, and the fluid–skeleton
coupling is necessary to correctly predict the observed pore pressure
evolution. However, the uncertainties and spatial variations of the
material properties, which are difficult to obtain in situ, became the
bottleneck of accurate predictions.
5. Discussion
The effects of filtration flows are examined using the formulation of
Nielsen et al. (2001), where the Shields parameter is modified as shown
in Eq. (11). The simulated morphological change caused by a 60-cm
solitary wave with and without filtration effects (Eqs. (11) and (10),
respectively), as well as the experimental measurements, are shown in
Fig. 10. It can be seen that both formulations gave satisfactory
agreements with the experimental results. At x≈21−23 m and
x≈25−27 m, the model with filtration effects yield slightly better
comparison with experimental measurements. The slight favorable
comparison with experiments does not necessarily prove or disapprove
the superiority of the model accounting for the filtration effects due to
the many uncertainties present inboththe model parameters andthe in
situ properties. Therefore, this issue still needs further investigations.
6. Conclusions
In this work, a comprehensive numerical model is developed with
the capability of modeling breaking solitary waves runup and
Fig. 7. Time history of the pore pressure variation at PPS1–4 (shown in the four subplots in the left column; located at x=25 m; Co-located with WG10) and PPS5–8 (shown in the
four subplots in the right column; located at the nominal shoreline, x=27 m; Co-located with WG12.). The time origin is shifted by 4.4 s compared to the figures in (Young et al.,
2010b-this issue).
129 H. Xiao et al. / Marine Geology 269 (2010) 119–131
drawdown over a mobile bed, including the effects of sediment
transport, morphological changes, and bed responses. The individual
components of the numerical model are first validated against
previous analytical, numerical, and experimental studies. The simu-
lation results are compared to the data obtained from a set of large-
scale experimental studies with breaking solitary waves runup and
drawdown over a fine sand beach presented in (Young et al., 2010b-
this issue).
The comparisons between numerical predictions and experimen-
tal measurements suggest that the current comprehensive numerical
model is able to capture the bulk of the physics during breaking
solitary wave runup and drawdown processes over a sand beach.
However, there are some discrepancies between the simulation
results and experimental measurements due to the limitations of
the depth-integrated wave simulator, the empirical nature of the
sediment transport model, as well as the uncertainties in the physical
properties of the bed material.
The study also suggests that including the filtration effects in the
numerical model resulted in slightly favorable comparison to the
experimental results in some cases. However, due to the many
uncertainties in the model parameters, soil properties, and the limited
experimental results, definite conclusions cannot be made regarding
the role of filtration flows, which warrants further research.
The authors would like to acknowledge funding by the National
Science Foundation through the NSF George E. Brown, Jr. Network for
Earthquake Engineering Simulation (grant nos. 0530759 and
0653772) and through the NSF CMMI grant no. 0649155. Discussions
with Mr. Volker Roeber, and the data provided by Dr. Yong Wei are
gratefully acknowledged.
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