American Society of Civil Engineers

Groundwater Waves and Water Exchange in Beaches

by Peter Nielsen, (Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA 4072, E-mail: and Ian L. Turner, (Water Research Laboratory, The University New South Wales, Manly Vale AUSTRALIA 2093.)
Section: Part III Coastal Structures, pp. 2356-2363, (doi:

     Access full text
     Purchase Subscription
     Permissions for Reuse  

Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Coastal Engineering 2000
Abstract: The generation of groundwater movement in beaches at wave and surf-beat frequencies is not a trivial process. Measurements of beachface porewater pressures beneath the swash zone show a clear spectral peak that coincides with the spectrum for the horizontal movement of the watertable exit point across the beachface, rather than the "usual suspects" of surf zone water-level or wave runup. The generation of beach groundwater waves at these frequencies is determined by a combination of the movement of the swash front and the characteristics of meniscus drainage within the upper layer of the beachface. Based on experimental data, recommendations are provided for describing the propagation of watertable waves which are influenced by the capillary fringe above the watertable. With respect to small amplitude waves, this is easily done by incorporating experimentally based effective porosities ne in the dispersion relations. The effective porosity corresponding to time-periodic waves is complex because of the phase lag of the total moisture relative to the watertable. To a great degree of accuracy ne has been found to depend on a single dimensionless variable: ne=ne(ωHc/K) where ω is the angular frequency, Hc is the capillary height and K the hydraulic conductivity. Incorporating the experimental ne-information into non-linear wave equations is challenging: By analogy with the hysteresis free model of Parlange & Brutsaert, the experimental ne-values suggest the use of fractional (2/3) order derivatives.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Groundwater flow
Surf zones
Water table
Wave generation