Development of subaqueous barchanoid-shaped dunes due to lateral grain size variability in a tidal inlet channel of the Danish Wadden Sea

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Abstract

[1] High-resolution bathymetry at centimeter-scale accuracy acquired with a multibeam echo sounder system revealed the existence of barchanoid-shaped large (i.e., length 10–100 m) to very large (i.e., length >100 m) dunes in the Grådyb tidal inlet channel in the Danish Wadden Sea. The development of these dunes is due to an increase in dune celerity from 12 m/yr in the center of the channel to around 30 m/yr at the sides. This increase in dune celerity can be explained by the fact that dune heights decrease from 3.1 m in the center of the channel to 1.4 m at the sides, as a smaller sediment volume has to be moved per unit time for equal dune celerity. Water depth is uniform across the channel. Likewise, high-resolution acoustic Doppler current profiler measurements across the channel showed a uniform distribution of both ebb and flood flow. Thus no correlation between dune dimensions and water depth or flow velocity was established. Instead, high-accuracy bed sampling along the crests of the dunes showed a decrease in mean grain size from 0.63 mm in the center to 0.36 mm at the sides of the channel. The decrease in dune height is ascribed to this decrease in grain size, given that flow depth and flow velocity are uniform across the channel. The lateral decrease in grain size is suggested to result from sorting effects by secondary currents directed from the center toward the sides of the channel in the trough/lee side region of the barchanoid-shaped dunes.

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