Sedimentological effects of aeolian processes active in the Tentsmuir area, Fife, Scotland
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Present day coastal accretion at Tentsmuir is manifest in the form of hummocky dune accumulations along the shoreline. The mode and variability of the distribution of surface sediments by the wind and the magnitude of accumulation of wind laid deposits in the Tentsmuir beach-dune complex is a measure of Aeolian activity in the area. In the Tentsmuir area fine to medium grained well sorted beach sands are entrained by high to moderate energy, seasonal, directionally unimodal to bimodal winds of low variability. During the winter season the dominant winds are from the south west (blowing towards the sea) whereas, generally during the spring the more effective winds are derived from the east (blowing towards land). The bimodal winds are composed of contrasting unimodally directional winds blowing for shorter durations. Daily sea breezes are observed during the summer. Field measurements of sand transport rates, with the aid of sand traps during anemometer determined wind speeds ranging from 4 m s-1 to 20 m s-1, in the study area show that while the onshore transport vector results in rapid foredune development, the longshore and offshore component contributes to a positive beach sediment budget. However, the net beach sediment budget is a complex interplay of Aeolian, wave and tidal processes. Shear velocities on the Tentsmuir beaches ranged from 18.5 cm s-1 to 52 cm s-1 and the focal point, u' and z' values were 1.75 m s-1 and 0.03 cm respectively. In general, the variability of the short-term Aeolian sand transport rates in the Tentsmuir beach-dune subenvironments is controlled by (i) variation in wind velocity, (ii) presence or absence of vegetation, (iii) ground surface moisture, and (iv) the sand size and source limitation. The potential sand input by the onshore winds during the last eleven years is estimated to have been approximately 28,532 m3. During the same period the potential amount of sand blown towards the sea was 109,570 m3. The amount of predicted onshore sediment input (28,532 m3) compares well with the 33,000 m3 of sand estimated to have accumulated in the lee of the beach at Tentsmuir Point The close agreement of the measured and predicted values of Aeolian transport suggests that the White (1979) expression, used in the present study to predict transport rates on the beach, provides fairly reliable estimates. Very high velocity offshore winds (>9 ms-1 produce a shelly deflation surface along the backshore, surface parallel sand sheets and sand strips on the foreshore; adhesion plane bed and adhesion structures along the moist/wet tidal margin and pyramidal dunes (offshore transport across a dune ridge >2.5m high.). Onshore high velocity winds result in the formation of surface parallel sand strips on the foreshore and a high volume of Aeolian sediment accumulation in the backshore and foredune area. Prolonged days of high velocity unidirectional winds result in the formation of barchans. Medium to high wind velocities (~6-9 ms-1) produce ballistically rippled foreshore sand lobes, lee dunes downwind of tidal debris, adhesion structures (offshore/longshore transport) and some sand accumulation in the foredune area (onshore transport). Abundant parallel laminated sand, pinchout laminae, sand lenses, precipitation deposits, trough crossbeds, plant remains at places overlying beach shell layers constitute a prograding coastal dune facies at Tentsmuir.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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