Safer shipping by predicting sand wave behaviour

Jul 05, 2007

Dutch researcher Joris van den Berg has developed a mathematical model to predict the movement of sand waves.

Sand waves are formed by an interaction between the tidal current and sand. They are larger than sand ripples on the beach but smaller than sandbanks. Sand waves largely determine the shape of the sea floor in the southern part of the North Sea. A good predictive computer model would be a valuable tool for shipping and designers of offshore infrastructures.

The mathematical equations describing the behaviour of sand waves have been known for some time. Yet suitable equations alone are not enough to predict their behaviour; the equations also need to be solved reliably. To date, no practical methods were available for solving these equations, especially for larger sand waves.

First of all, Van den Berg simplified the equations considerably. This made it much easier to find solutions and hence to predict sand wave behaviour. The result was a tool that could quickly predict the effect of interventions such as dredging. This model was used successfully to determine the recovery of sand waves after dredging of a trench for the new high-voltage cable from the Netherlands to England.

Subsequently, Van den Berg developed efficient calculation methods to solve the original equations. In the end this resulted in a mathematical model that will possibly enable studies on the interaction between sand waves and sand banks in the future.

Predicting the growth and movement of these waves is vitally important for the safety of shipping and the design of offshore infrastructure, such as pipelines, cables and platforms.

Sand waves develop in loose sand on the bottom of shallow seas. This loose sand is transported by tidal currents, giving rise to wave patterns. These patterns disrupt the tidal flow and result in more sand being pushed on to the slope. Eventually, sand waves can reach a height of five to eight metres and due to the current they can continuously move and change shape.

Source: NWO

Explore further: Insightful mathematics for an optimal run: Mathematical equations can help improve athletic performance

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pebbles that disrupt landscapes

May 23, 2014

Transported by water or wind, sediments have a significant impact on the environment, and we cannot really quantify the magnitude of these events. A doctoral student at EPFL has proposed a new mathematical ...

Mystery of the missing waves on Titan

Jul 23, 2013

One of the most shocking discoveries of the past 10 years is how much the landscape of Saturn's moon Titan resembles Earth. Like our own blue planet, the surface of Titan is dotted with lakes and seas; it ...

Researcher examines motion of breaking waves

Mar 27, 2013

During the spring of 2011, Lake Poinsett homeowners were amazed at how easily the waves destroyed their sandbag and concrete barricades, but South Dakota State University Civil Engineering Professor Francis ...

Recommended for you

The economics of age gaps and marriage

18 minutes ago

Men and women who are married to spouses of similar ages are smarter, more successful and more attractive compared to couples with larger age gaps, according to a paper from CU Denver Economics Assistant Professor Hani Mansour ...

Prophet's ancient seal provides insights from antiquity

43 minutes ago

When a personal artifact of a religious leader is discovered nearly 1,700 years after its use, the object provides invaluable historical insights. Zsuzsanna Gulacsi, professor of Comparative Cultural Studies, ...

Seeing dinosaur feathers in a new light

51 minutes ago

Why were dinosaurs covered in a cloak of feathers long before the early bird species Archaeopteryx first attempted flight? Researchers from the University of Bonn and the University of Göttingen attempt ...

Billionaires' $10m gift to Yale stirs debate in China

4 hours ago

A Chinese billionaire couple's $10 million gift to Yale University sparked controversy among the country's Internet users Thursday, with some arguing that the money would be better spent on schools in China.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.