Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Cienfuegos, R., Duarte, L.Hernandez, E. (2008). “Infragravity wave generationdynamics over a mild slope beach : Experiments and numerical computations”. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, Ca, USA. (2008)

Infragravity wave generation and dynamics over a mild slope beach : Experiments and numerical computations

Revista : American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
Tipo de publicación : Conferencia No DCC


Gravity waves generated by wind and propagating towards the coast, are usually comprised between 0.05Hz and 1Hz. Nevertheless, lower frequecy waves, in the range of 0.001Hz and 0.05Hz, have been observed in the nearshore zone. Those long waves, termed as infragravity waves, are generated by complex nonlinear mechanisms affecting the propagation of irregular waves up to the coast. The groupiness of an incident random wave field may be responsible for producing a slow modulation of the mean water surface thus generating bound long waves travelling at the group speed. Similarly, a quasi-periodic oscillation of the break-point location, will be accompained by a slow modulation of set-up/set-down in the surf zone and generation and release of long waves. If the primary structure of the carrying incident gravity waves is destroyed (e.g. by breaking), forced long waves can be freely released and even reflected at the coast, and propagated off-shore. Infragravity waves can affect port operation through resonating conditions, or strongly affect sediment transport and beach morphodynamics.\

In the present study we investigate infragravity wave generation mechanisms both, from experiments and numerical computations. Measurements were conducted at the 70-meter long wave tank, located at the Instituto Nacional de Hidraulica (Chile), prepared with a beach of very mild slope of 1/80 in order to produce large surf zone extensions. A random JONSWAP type wave field (h0=0.52m, fp=0.25Hz, Hmo=0.17m) was generated by a piston wave-maker and measurements of the free surface displacements were performed all over its length at high spatial resolution (0.2m to 1m). Velocity profiles were also measured at four verticals inside the surf zone using an ADV. Correlation maps of wave group envelopes and infragravity waves are computed in order to identify long wave generation and dynamics in the experimental set-up. It appears that both mechanisms (groupiness and break-point oscillation) are clearly present in this experiment while spectral analysis evidences the reorganization of energy density from the original narrow spectrum into the infragravity band.\

This experiment provides an opportunity to test numerical models that would in principle be able to reproduce infragravity wave generation and dynamics. We compare numerical results (free surface and velocities) produced by a fully nonlinear Boussinesq model including breaking and runup to the experimental data and show that the complex infragravity wave dynamics is adequately reproduced by the model.