Beach and Dune Subsurface Hydrodynamics and Their Influence on the Formation of Dune Scarps Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractErosive beach scarps influence beach vulnerability, yet their formation remains challenging to predict. In this study, a 1:2.5 scale laboratory experiment was used to study the subsurface hydrodynamics of a beach dune during an erosive event. Pressure and moisture sensors buried within the dune were used both to monitor the water table and to examine vertical pressure gradients in the upper 0.3m of sand as the slope of the upper beach developed into a scarp. Concurrently, a linescan lidar tracked swash bores and monitored erosion and accretion patterns along a single crossshore transect throughout the experiment. As wave conditions intensified, a discontinuity in the slope of the dune formed; the discontinuity grew steeper and progressed landward at the same rate as the R2% runup extent until it was a fully formed scarp with a vertical face. Within the upper 0.15m of the partially saturated sand, upward pore pressure gradients were detected during backwash, influencing the effective weight of sand and potentially contributing to beachface erosion. The magnitude and frequency of the upward pressure gradients increased with deeper swash depths and with frequency of wave interaction, and decreased with depth into the sand. A simple conceptual model for scarp formation is proposed that incorporates observations of upwarddirected pressure gradients from this study while providing a reference for future studies seeking to integrate additional swash zone sediment transport processes that may impact scarp development.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Bond, H., Wengrove, M., Puleo, J., Pontiki, M., Evans, T. M., & Feagin, R. A.

complete list of authors

  • Bond, Hailey||Wengrove, Meagan||Puleo, Jack||Pontiki, Maro||Evans, T Matthew||Feagin, Rusty A

publication date

  • December 2023