Abstract

The central north shore of Prince Edward Island comprises embayments separated by subtle headlands that may constrain nearshore sediment transport. The study area includes two such embayments informally known as Brackley and Tracadie bights, both of which are sand-rich onshore and sand-starved between 20 and 50 m water depth. Storm winds and waves from the northwest and northeast are common in autumn and winter. The hydrodynamic model Delft3D is used to simulate waves, currents, water levels, and sediment transport in Brackley and Tracadie bights during 23 autumn seasons between 1955 and 2005. When compared with wave and current measurements from a field experiment in the autumn of 1999, the model successfully simulates conditions during storms and fair-weather periods. Results from the simulations show that, in autumn, the weighted mean direction of transport is to the southeast (133°). Bedload transport is directed onshore to the south (170°), and suspended load is directed offshore to the northeast (67°). When aggregated over the 23 seasons, transport magnitudes and directions differ between Brackley and Tracadie bights. Rates of transport are higher in Tracadie Bight and directed more to the east. During individual storms, transport is dependent on the storm wind and wave direction. Most transport occurs in bed load, and deposition occurs at the shoreline, with erosion offshore. The patterns of bed load and suspended load suggest a mechanism for the landward migration of this shoreline during transgression, and may explain the existence of the sand-starved zone offshore.

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