• beach ground water;
  • hysteresis;
  • beach moisture content


This study examined the influence of tidally-induced oscillations of the beach water table in regulating beach surface moisture dynamics. A series of laboratory experiments were conducted to assess the influence of hysteresis and transient flow effects on surface moisture variability. The experimental apparatus utilized a column of well-sorted fine sand partially immersed in a reservoir of water. The water level in the reservoir was raised and lowered via a diaphragm-metering pump to simulate tidally induced fluctuations of the water table, and the moisture content profile within the column was monitored using an array of Delta-T probes. Moisture contents at specific elevations within the column were utilized as proxies to represent various ‘surface’ elevations (relative to the high water table). Results indicate that surface moisture content behaves in a distinctly hysteretic manner. Examination of water flow scanning curves illustrated that for all surface elevations considered, higher moisture contents for a given pressure head occurred during the drying cycle than during the wetting cycle. This observation is particularly evident with shallow surface elevations (i.e. water table close to the surface) where the Haines Jump phenomenon was found to have a significant influence on moisture content dynamics. Additionally, an assessment of the accuracy of hysteretic and non-hysteretic models to predict the measured moisture contents demonstrated that hysteretic simulations consistently provide a better representation of the observed moisture contents than non-hysteretic simulations. A time lag was found between the respective maxima and minima in water table elevation surface moisture content. At the near surface water table positions the time lag ranged between 30 and 100 minutes, and it increased to 240 minutes (four hours) with the high water table at 60 cm below the surface. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.