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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Patterns in the sand Seminar

3 October 2012
Charnock lecture theatre at NOC

Event details

Coastal seminar series, which is part of the Energy and Climate Change Group within CMEES


The nearshore region exhibits many striking morphological patterns with a variety of spatial and temporal scales (ripples, beach cusps, sandbars). The formation of these rhythmic features has been initially ascribed, depending on the pattern in question, to spatial structures in the flow or geological constrains. These forcing templates have been hypothesized to provide the spatial structure that becomes imprinted on the shoreline or seabed morphology. More recently, new explanations for rhythmic patterns have involved interactions between fluid flow and sediment transport that create morphological feedbacks and lead to pattern self-organization. I will illustrate the sweeping shift from template explanations to self organization by discussing different nearshore patterns. Models involving self organization show that local interactions between flow and sediment transport can collectively give rise to patterns with large-scale coherence and that the driving feedbacks can be associated with either topographical or grain-size composition instabilities. An approach based on self-organization also allows researchers to establish limitations in the predictability of rhythmic pattern occurrence and characteristics as well as to study mechanisms leading to the observed pattern variability or lack of regularity.

Speaker information

Giovanni Coco, University of Cantabria, Spain. Giovanni obtained a PhD with a thesis on nearshore morphodynamics. After 3 years at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (USA) and 8 years at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NZ), in 2011 he joined the University of Cantabria (Spain). His research interests focus on coastal processes, geomorphology, estuarine ecology, marine geology and complexity.

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