Foredune formation at Tugela River mouth.
This study examines foredune evolution along a 2100 m section of coast adjacent to the Tugela River. The foredunes vary in both height and shape along the study area and form the southern most extension of the Tugela foredune-ridge plain. Sand accumulation and erosion was measured at regular intervals over a 30 month period by tacheometric surveys. The foredunes and beaches are comprised of over 99 % sand. The sediment was predominantly composed of quartz and feldspar with subordinate lithic fragments. The quartz grains display conchoidal fractures and mechanical v-shaped pits and curved grooves. The beach and dune sand is well sorted and slightly negatively skewed with a mean grain size of 1.62 ф. The vegetation structure and floristic composition of the foredunes are explored. A range of factors influencing foredune morphology and evolution, including canopy density, height and distribution, wind velocity and a variety of ecological and environmental processes are examined. Ridge and swale morphology as well as alongshore variation in the dunefield could not be related to biological processes. The development of a foredune-ridge topography depends on a large sediment supply from the Tugela River over the long-term. Periods of high discharge introduce a fresh source of sediment to the littoral zone. Reworking of fluvial sediment landwards results in wide beaches. Onshore winds transport the sand from the beaches to the foredunes. Scaevola thunbergii encourages rapid vertical accretion and hummock dunes are formed. Lateral extensive invasion by seedlings may result in the hummock dunes joining to form coast parallel foredunes. Under periods of reduced sediment discharge erosion of the shoreline results in steep narrow beaches. Despite a negative beach budget foredunes continue to accrete vertically. Marine erosion results in either the complete destruction of embryo foredunes or their landward shift. Natural breaks in the dune crestline were attributed to changes in the delivery of sediment to the beaches. The processes operating in the study area conform to Psuty's (1988,1989) sediment budget model of foredune development. Sediment availability to the coastline produces characteristic morphologies.
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