Wave Generation of Gravity-Driven Sediment Flows on a Predominantly Sandy Seabed

Raúl P. Flores, Sabine Rijnsburger, Saulo Meirelles, Alexander R. Horner-Devine, Alejandro J. Souza, Julie D. Pietrzak, Martijn Henriquez, Ad Reniers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Wave-supported gravity flows (WSGFs) generate rates of sediment flux far exceeding other cross-shelf transport processes, contributing disproportionately to shelf morphology and net cross-shelf fluxes of sediment in many regions worldwide. However, the conditions deemed necessary for the formation of WSGF limit them to a narrow set of shelf conditions; they have been observed exclusively in regions where the seabed consists of very fine-grained sediment and typically co-occur with nearby river flood events. Here we document the occurrence of a WSGF event on a predominantly sandy seabed and in the absence of a preceding river flood. Our measurements confirm that the dynamics are governed by the friction-buoyancy balance observed in other WSGF and that WSGF can form in mixed grain-size environments and transport high concentrations of sand. The occurrence of WSGF on a predominantly sandy seabed suggests that they may occur under a much wider range of conditions and, given the global prevalence of sandy shelves, they may be a more frequent and more ubiquitous feature of shelf dynamics than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7634-7645
Number of pages12
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2018


  • cross-shelf transport
  • marine gravity-driven flows
  • sandy seabed
  • sediment transport
  • wave-supported gravity flows

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