Thesis: Sediment transport in fringing coral reefs
The morphological and benthic features of fringing coral reef systems shape the dominant hydrodynamic processes that occur on the reef as well as in the lagoon or on the lee side of the reef. The shallow and often wide coral reef platform dissipates and redistributes incident wave energy primarily by depth induced wave breaking and the frictional drag of the reef benthos. These hydrodynamic transformations, along with the complex near bed form that characterises coral reef environments, are likely to have an important impact on how sediment is suspended, transported and deposited in these environments.
Shorelines adjacent to fringing coral reefs are often characterised by various major morphological planform (horizontal) features. The development of these features is certainly associated with the morphological form of the adjacent reef however little is known about the physical interaction between hydrodynamic processes, the reef benthic community and sediment dynamics that ultimately shape these coastlines.
The aim of this study is to understand the physical processes associated with sediment dynamics in coral reef environments and how these processes can be modelled in order to understand coastline morphological development.
Why my research is important
This research will improve our understanding of how sediment is mobilised and transported in coral reef environments though the use of:
(1) Physical wave flume modelling of reef hydrodynamic and sediment processes; and
(2) In-situ field measurements within coral reef environments.
Improved understanding of the physical processes associated with sediment dynamics in complex reef environments will enable sediment transport pathways as well as larger scale morphological development processes to be described and modelled. This will provide the necessary tools to better understand how sediment interacts with coral reef communities as well as how a reef may affect an adjacent shoreline. This will improve the capacity of numerical models to represent how hydrodynamic conditions, reef community health and human intervention may impact reef environments and larger shoreline morphological development.