Billson, O.J.; Russell, P.; Davidson, M.; Poate, T.; Amoudry, L.O., and Williams, M.E., 2020. In-situ observations of infragravity response during extreme storms on sand and gravel beaches. Global Coastal Issues of 2020. Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 95, pp. 382–386. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
Infragravity waves (frequency = 0.005 – 0.05 Hz) play a key role in coastal storm impacts such as flooding and beach/dune erosion. They are known to dominate the inner surf zone on low-sloping sandy beaches during storms. However, in large wave conditions, their importance on different beach types, of variable swell and wind-waves dominance, is largely unknown. Here, a new dataset is presented comprising in-situ observations during storm wave conditions (significant wave height of 3.3 m, peak periods of 18 s and return periods up to 1 in 60 years) from two contrasting sites: a low-sloping sandy beach and a steep gravel beach. Wave measurements were collected seaward of the breakpoint by wave buoys and bed-mounted acoustic Doppler current profilers, and through the surf zone using arrays of pressure transducers. Wave spectra showed contrasting evolution from the shoaling zone to the inner surf zone at the two sites. At the sandy beach, gravity band energy dissipated gradually as depth reduced, while infragravity band energy simultaneously increased, resulting in strongly infragravity-dominated wave spectra in the inner surf zone. At the steep gravel site, a rapid drop in short wave energy was observed, with limited growth of infragravity energy so that inner surf zone spectra showed a low energy peak in the infragravity band. The normalized bed slope parameter indicated whether infragravity waves were generated by bound long wave release or breakpoint forcing, showing that the former (latter) was dominant on the sandy (gravel) beach. In spite of these differences, the shoreline wave spectra under storm wave conditions were infragravity-dominated on both the sandy and gravel beaches.