Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Tebbens, Sarah F.


Atlantic coast, Gulf of Mexico, coastal geomorphology, longshore current direction, deep-water waves, nodal zones


This paper examines the regional longshore sediment transport pattern of the seaward coast of the United States and Gulf of Mexico from northern Maine to Tampa Bay, Florida. From previous studies it is known that along the coast there are variations in direction of sediment transport known as nodal zones as well as variations in sediment transport rate. Wave Information Study (WIS) hindcast data for the interval 1976 through 1995 (United States Army Corps of Engineers, 2003) provide a spatially continuous model of the regional longshore current directions in the study area. In chapter one, all available published field studies of longshore current direction and sediment transport directions and rates are compiled to create a description of the direction and, whenever possible, magnitude of longshore transport. A detailed compilation of regional and local published studies are provided in tables.

An interpretation of sediment transport rates and directions is provided in eight regional maps of the study area. In chapter two the results of the literature compilations are compared with gross and net potential sediment transport directions and rates modeled using WIS hindcast data. The WIS deep-water wave characteristics are used to predict the directions and rate of longshore sediment transport at local outer coast positions using the method of Ashton et al. (2003a). The WIS-derived transport directions, including nodal zones, generally agree with the published field studies, although there are a few local inconsistencies particularly near inlets, shoals and irregular bathymetry. Trends in longshore transport rates, such as increases and decreases in gross transport rates are well represented by the WIS-derived potential transport rates.

The discrepencies between the published field studies and WIS results are apparently primarily due to assumptions in the WIS model, such as assuming shore-parallel bathymetric contours.