River Delta Morphology: Wave Climate and the Role of the Subaqueous Proffile

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Science  21 Apr 1972:
Vol. 176, Issue 4032, pp. 282-284
DOI: 10.1126/science.176.4032.282


Application of a comprehensive wave climate program to seven major deltas indicates that deltaic configurations and coastal landform combinations depend to a considerable degree on the wave power adjacent to the shore and on the river discharge relative to wave forces. Nearshore wave power is not correlative with deepwater wave power but, owing to frictional attenuation, is a function of the subaqueous slope. The subaqueous slope, in turn, depends partially on the slope and width of the continental shelf but primarily on the rate at which the river can supply sediments to the nearshore zone. River-dominated configurations result only when the river is able to build flat offshore profiles, which reduce nearshore wave power; where the subaqueous slope is steep, waves reach the shore comparatively undiminished and wave-built forms prevail.