Sediment Pathways on Ebb-Tidal Deltas: New Tools and Techniques for Analysis

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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In an era of rising seas and other challenges posed by climate change, coastal regions like the Netherlands are facing ever graver threats. Strategic sand nourishments could mitigate the threat of coastal erosion and sea level rise on barrier island coasts while limiting ecological impacts. However, insufficient knowledge of sediment transport pathways at tidal inlets and ebb-tidal deltas prevents an informed response in these areas.

The main goal of this project was to describe and quantify the pathways that sediment takes on an ebb-tidal delta. To reach this goal, we focused our analyses on Ameland ebb-tidal delta in the Netherlands. Before we could begin to tackle this challenge, we needed to develop new tools and techniques for analyzing a combination of field measurements and numerical models. These include a method for analyzing the stratigraphy and mapping the morphodynamic evolution of ebb-tidal deltas, a new metric for characterizing suspended sediment composition, and innovative use of sediment tracers. We also established a quantitative approach for looking at and thinking about sediment pathways via the sediment connectivity framework, and developed a Lagrangian model to visualize and predict these pathways efficiently.

The techniques developed here are useful in a wider range of coastal settings beyond Ameland, and are already being applied in practice. We foresee that the main impacts of this project will be to improve nourishment strategies, numerical modelling, and field data analysis. This dissertation also points forward to numerous opportunities for further investigation, including the continued development of the connectivity framework and SedTRAILS. By managing our coastal sediment more effectively, we will set the stage for a more sustainable future, in spite of the challenges that lie ahead.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Wang, Z.B., Supervisor
  • van Prooijen, B.C., Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date8 Mar 2022
Print ISBNs978-94-6384-300-3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


This work is part of the research programme ‘Collaboration Program Water’ with project number 14489 (SEAWAD), which is (partly) financed by NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences.


  • sediment transport pathway
  • ebb-tidal delta
  • connectivity
  • Ameland
  • Wadden Sea
  • coastal dynamics
  • morphodynamics
  • hydrodynamics


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