Sediment dynamics on a steep, megatidal, mixed sand–gravel–cobble beach
Results are presented from a pilot study of shore-face sediment dynamics on a steep, poorly sorted, coarse-grained, megatidal beach at the head of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada. The experiment involved the first field deployment of a prototype wideband, pulse-coherent, bistatic acoustic Doppler profiling system. Measurements of the vertical structure of flow and turbulence above a sloping bed, as well as bed material velocity, demonstrate the capabilities of this instrument vis-à-vis studies of nearshore sediment dynamics at the field scale. The second focus of the paper is the unexpected observation that the surficial sediment median diameter, across the lower two-thirds of the intertidal zone, underwent a pronounced decrease when wave forcing was more energetic, compared to values observed during calmer conditions. The explanation for this result appears to involve the formation – in wave-dominated conditions – of metre-scale wavelength, 20 cm high ripples on the rising tide, which are then planed flat by the swash and/or the shore break on the subsequent ebb.