EGU2020-18730, updated on 12 Jun 2020
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Characteristics and dynamics of crescentic bar events at an open, Mediterranean beach

Rinse de Swart1, Francesca Ribas1, Daniel Calvete1, Gonzalo Simarro2, and Jorge Guillén2
Rinse de Swart et al.
  • 1Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Department of Physics, Barcelona, Spain (
  • 2Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC), Department of Marine Geosciences, Barcelona, Spain.

Crescentic sand bars have attracted significant attention from coastal scientists during the last decades, which has lead to comparatively good understanding of their formation mechanism, as well as their characteristics and dynamics (e.g. Van Enckevort et al., 2004; Price and Ruessink, 2011). However, the effect of wave obliquity on crescentic bar formation is not yet clear, and processes like coupling of crescentic bars with megacusps deserve further attention. Furthermore, the mechanisms leading to crescentic bar straightening are not well understood. Previously, this was mainly linked to high-energetic wave conditions, but more recent studies (e.g. Price and Ruessink, 2011; Garnier et al., 2013) indicate that this is not always the case. Instead, those studies have found that bar straightening predominantly occurs when the waves are obliquely incident. Finally, there are not many studies of crescentic bars in fetch-limited environments with insignificant tides (such as Mediterranean beaches). Therefore, the objective of the present work is to increase our knowledge on the dynamics of crescentic bars (including bar straightening) using data from an open, Mediterranean beach (Castelldefels beach, 20 km southwest of Barcelona) with hardly any tides and limited fetch.

Crescentic bar dynamics have been analysed using a nearly 8-year dataset of time-exposure video images (October 2010 to August 2018). The crescentic bar events, including formation and destruction moments, have been detected using visual analysis. Wave conditions in front of the study site have been collected by propagating 2D spectra (measured by a permanent wave buoy in front of Barcelona harbour) using the SWAN spectral wave model. The first results indicate that there is a lot of morphodynamic variability at the study site, even for low-energetic wave conditions (Hm0 < 0.5 m). Tens of crescentic bar events, including formation, evolution and destruction, can be observed. The bars show a large variation in wavelength (ranging from 100 to 500 m), which is often related to splitting and merging of individual crescents. Furthermore, the results reveal a strong relation between crescentic bar formation and the initial configuration of the bathymetry. Crescentic bars develop often when the sandbar is located some distance from the shoreline, whilst they are hardly observed when the sandbar is located close to the shoreline. Further work (which will be presented at the conference) consists of a detailed analysis of bar characteristics, including their alongshore migration, and the quantification of the role of wave conditions (especially wave direction) on crescentic bar dynamics.

Garnier, R., Falqués, A., Calvete, D., Thiebot, J., & Ribas, F. (2013). A mechanism for sandbar straightening by oblique wave incidence. Geophysical Research Letters, 40(11), 2726-2730.
Price, T. D., & Ruessink, B. G. (2011). State dynamics of a double sandbar system. Continental Shelf Research, 31(6), 659-674.
Van Enckevort, I. M. J., Ruessink, B. G., Coco, G., Suzuki, K., Turner, I. L., Plant, N. G., & Holman, R. A. (2004). Observations of nearshore crescentic sandbars. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 109(C6).

How to cite: de Swart, R., Ribas, F., Calvete, D., Simarro, G., and Guillén, J.: Characteristics and dynamics of crescentic bar events at an open, Mediterranean beach, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18730,, 2020


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