Using a digital video-based Argus Beach Monitoring System (ABMS) on the north shore of Kachemak Bay in south central Alaska, we document the timing and magnitude of alongshore migration of intertidal sand bed forms over a cobble substrate during a 22-month observation period. Two separate sediment packages (sand bodies) of 1-2 m amplitude and ???200 m wavelength, consisting of well-sorted sand, were observed to travel along shore at annually averaged rates of 278 m/yr (0.76 m/d) and 250 m/ yr (0.68 m/d), respectively. Strong seasonality in migration rates was shown by the contrast of rapid winter and slow summer transport. Though set in a megatidal environment, data indicate that sand body migration is driven by eastward propagating wind waves as opposed to net westward directed tidal currents. Greatest weekly averaged rates of movement, exceeding 6 m/d, coincided with wave heights exceeding 2 m suggesting a correlation of wave height and sand body migration. Because Kachemak Bay is partially enclosed, waves responsible for sediment entrainment and transport are locally generated by winds that blow across lower Cook Inlet from the southwest, the direction of greatest fetch. Our estimates of sand body migration translate to a littoral transport rate between 4,400-6,300 m3/yr. Assuming an enclosed littoral cell, minimal riverine sediment contributions, and a sea cliff sedimentary fraction of 0.05, we estimate long-term local sea cliff retreat rates of 9-14 cm/yr. Applying a numerical model of wave energy dissipation to the temporally variable beach morphology suggests that sand bodies are responsible for enhancing wave energy dissipation by ???13% offering protection from sea cliff retreat. Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
Additional publication details
Intertidal sand body migration along a megatidal coast, Kachemak Bay, Alaska