Effect of velocity hiatuses in oscillatory flow on migration and geometry of ripples: wave-flume experiments



A series of wave-flume experiments was conducted to closely look at characteristics of geometry and migration of wave-generated ripples, with particular reference to the effect of velocity ‘hiatuses’ during which the near-bed flow velocity becomes much smaller than the threshold of sediment movement. Three types of wave patterns were generated: two types for simulating waves with intervening velocity hiatuses; and regular waves for comparison purposes. In the former two types, two different wavelengths of water waves were generated alternately in the course of a wave test: the wave with a longer wavelength was set large enough to mobilize the bottom sediment, whereas the wave with a shorter wavelength was set too small to mobilize the sediment. The former two types were designed to be different in sequence of convexity and concavity of wave patterns. The sequence with the convex–concave longer wave and successive convex–concave shorter wave was described as a ‘zero-up-crossing’ wave pattern, and the inverse sequence was described as a ‘zero-down-crossing’ wave pattern. The ripples developed under oscillatory flow with intervening hiatuses manifested the following characteristics in geometry and migration. (i) The morphological characteristics of ripples, namely wavelength, height and the ripple steepness, are unaffected by the intervening hiatuses of velocity. (ii) The directions of ripple migration under the zero-up-crossing and zero-down-crossing wave patterns corresponded well with the directions of the flow immediately before onset of the hiatuses. (iii) The observation of sand particle movement on the ripple surface indicated that, under the zero-up-crossing waves, the velocity hiatus prevents the entrained sediment cloud from being thrown onshore, and thus the sediment grains thrown onshore are fewer than those thrown offshore. As a result of the sediment movement over one wave-cycle, the net sediment transport is directed offshore under the zero-up-crossing wave pattern. (iv) The velocity of ripple migration was highly correlated with acceleration skewness. Under most of the zero-up-crossing (zero-down-crossing) wave patterns, flow acceleration skewed negative (positive) and ripples migrated offshore (onshore).