Sediment transport and bedforms in a carbonate tidal inlet; Lee Stocking Island, Exumas, Bahamas

Ramon Gonzalez, Gregor P. Eberli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

An active oolitic sand wave was monitored for a period of 37 days in order to address the relationship between the direction and strength of tidal currents and the resultant geometry, and amount and direction of migration of bedforms in carbonate sands. The study area is situated in a tidal channel near Lee Stocking Island (Exumas, Bahamas) containing an estimated 5·5 to 6 × 105 m3 of mobile oolitic sand. Tidal ranges within the inlet are microtidal and the maximum current velocity at the studied site is 0·6 m s-1. At least 300-400 m3 of mostly oolitic sand are formed within, or brought into, the channel area every year. The tidal inlet is subdivided into an ocean-orientated segment, in which sand waves are shaped by both flood and ebb tides, and a platform-orientated segment, where sand waves are mainly shaped by flood tides. The studied sand wave lies on the platformward flood-tide dominated segment in a water depth of 3·5-4·5 m. During the 37 days of observation, the oolitic and bioclastic sand wave migrated 4 m in the direction of the dominant flood current. The increments of migration were directly related to the strength of the tide. During each tidal cycle, bedforms formed depending on the strength of the tidal current, tidal range and their location on the sand wave. During flood tides, a steep lee and a gentle stoss side formed and current ripples and small dunes developed on the crest of the sand wave, while the trough developed only ripples. The average lee slope of the sand wave is 24·2°, and therefore steeper than typical siliciclastic sand waves. During ebb tides, portions of the crest are eroded creating a convex upward ebb stoss side, covered with climbing cuspate and linguoid ripples and composite dunes. The area between the ebb-lee side and the trough is covered with fan systems, sinuous ripples and dunes. The migration of all bedforms deviated to a variable degree from the main current direction, reflecting complex flow patterns in the tidal inlet. Small bedforms displayed the largest deviation, migrating at an angle of up to 90° and more to the dominant current direction during spring tides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1015-1030
Number of pages16
JournalSedimentology
Volume44
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy

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