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Frontiers of Earth Science

Front. Earth Sci.    2017, Vol. 11 Issue (1) : 35-45     DOI: 10.1007/s11707-016-0571-6
Numerical research on evolvement of submarine sand waves in the Northern South China Sea
Qikun ZHOU1,Guanghai HU1,Yongfu SUN1(),Xiaohui LIU2,Yupeng SONG1,Lifeng DONG1,Changming DONG3,4
1. First Institute of Oceanography, SOA, Qingdao 266061, China
2. State Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics, Second Institute of Oceanography, SOA, Hangzhou 310012, China
3. School of Marine Sciences, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
4. Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
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Submarine sand waves, vital to seabed stability, are an important consideration for oceanic engineering projects such as oil pipe lines and submarine cables. The properties of surface sediment and the evolvement of submarine sand waves in a specified area in the South China Sea are studied using both a hydrological model and field observational data. The bottom flow field data between 2010 and 2011 in the study area are simulated by the Regional Ocean Model System (ROMS). The migration of submarine sand waves is calculated using Rubin’s formula along with typhoon data and bottom flow field data, which allows for the analysis of sand wave response under the influence of typhoons. The migration direction calculated by Rubin’s formula and bottom flow are very similar to collected data. The migration distance of different positions is between 0.0 m and 21.8 m, which reciprocates cumulatively. This shows that Rubin’s formula can predict the progress of submarine sand waves with the bottom flow simulated by ROMS. The migration distances of 2 sites in the study area are 2.0 m and 2.9 m during the typhoon “Fanapi”. The proportion of the calculated migration distance by the typhoon is 9.17% and 26.36% of the annual migration distance, respectively, which proves that the typhoon can make a significant impact on submarine sand waves.

Keywords submarine sand waves      migration      ROMS      Rubin’s formula      typhoon     
Corresponding Authors: Yongfu SUN   
Just Accepted Date: 25 April 2016   Online First Date: 17 May 2016    Issue Date: 23 January 2017
 Cite this article:   
Qikun ZHOU,Guanghai HU,Yongfu SUN, et al. Numerical research on evolvement of submarine sand waves in the Northern South China Sea[J]. Front. Earth Sci., 2017, 11(1): 35-45.
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Qikun ZHOU
Guanghai HU
Yongfu SUN
Xiaohui LIU
Yupeng SONG
Lifeng DONG
Changming DONG
Fig.1  Map of the study area.
Fig.2  Map shows the spatial distribution of the surface sediments and sand waves. The areas surrounded by red lines are the sand wave regions. Different infillings indicate different sediments: SG–sandy gravel; GS–gravely sand; CS–coarse sand; MS–medium sand; FS–fine sand; TS–silty sand; ST-sandy silt; STY–sand-silt-clay; STCa–calcareous biological sandy silt; ST(Ca)–biological sandy silt with calcium.
Fig.3  The comparison diagram of ridge lines at sand wave Region II: the black curves correspond to the ridge lines of sand waves, the upper curve for 2011 and the lower one for 2010. The curves surrounded by the rectangle show the migration trend and distance of sand waves at Region II.
Fig.4  The comparison diagram of ridge line at sand wave Region I: same as Fig. 3.
Fig.5  Model domain and the bathymetry.
Fig.6  Migration distance and route of sand waves in different sites: panel (a), (b), (c), (d) indicate Site 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. The little red circles denote the starting point and end point of the sand waves. The black points are the track of the sand waves.
Site Region Depth/m Wave height/m Median particle diameter/mm Incipient velocity/(m·s?1) Migration distance/m
1 II 121 0.7 0.372 0.3649 21.8
2 II 125 0.7 0.392 0.3686 11.0
3 I 190 2.9 2.142 0.5701 0
4 I 145 1.7 0.654 0.4243 1.9
Tab.1  Parameters and result of the simulation
Fig.7  Time series of flow velocity at point A. Upper panel: the red and black lines correspond to u and v velocity, respectively. Lower panel: the green and blue lines represent the angle and speed of current.
Fig.8  The flow direction distribution frequency of point A. Different colors indicate different velocity ranges.
Fig.9  Sand wave migration route during “Fanapi” period: left panel for sand wave of Site 1 and right panel for sand wave of Site 2. The meaning of the little red circle and black point are same as Fig. 6.
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