Sediment Transport Modeling

Members of the Sediment Transport Modeling Lab at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) conduct research to improve our ability to quantify and predict sediment transport on continental shelves over a variety of temporal and spatial scales. We are involved in interdisciplinary projects and large experiments with field oceanographers and geologists.  A recent focus has been coupling sediment transport models with ecological and geochemical models.  Current research projects include efforts to:

  • evaluate the role that physical processes play in determining spatial and temporal patterns of erodibility within the York River estuary;
  • develop and use numerical models to quantify sediment processes within the northern Gulf of Mexico; and
  • identify the oceanographic transport processes that impact sediment transport off shore of the North Island, New Zealand.

We are also active in a group of oceanographers and geologists who are working to develop a community sediment transport model by developing and testing numerical models that account for sediment transport and oceanographic circulation, and couple sediment transport to biogeochemical models.

  • Courtney Harris, Associate Professor.
  • Tara Kniskern, Post-doctoral scientist (2010 - present).
  • Julia Moriarty, M.S. candidate.
  • Justin Birchler, M.S. student.
Past Graduate Students and Post-Docs
  • Aaron Bever, Ph.D. 2010.
  • Yanxia Ma, Ph.D. 2009.
  • J.Paul Rinehimer, M.S. 2008.
  • Tara Kniskern, Ph.D. 2007.
  • Kehui Xu, Post-doctoral scientist (2007 - 2008).
Publications since 2007
  • Harris, C.K., J.P. Rinehimer, and S.-C. Kim.  2012.  Estimates of bed stresses within a model of Chesapeake Bay.  Estuarine and Coastal Modeling; Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference.  November 7 - 9, 2011, St. Augustine, FL.  M.L. Spaulding, editor.  pp 415 - 434.
  • Xu, K., C.K. Harris, R.D. Hetland and J. Kaihatu.  2011.  Dispersal of Mississippi and Atchafalay sediment on the Texas - Louisiana shelf:  Model estimates for the year 1993. Continental Shelf Research.  31 (15):  1558 - 1575.  doi:  10.1016 / j.csr.2011.05.008.
  • Bever, A.J., J.E. McNinch, and C.K. Harris.  2011.  Hydrodynamics and sediment-transport in the nearshore of Poverty Bay, New Zealand:  observations of nearshore sediment segregation and oceanic storms.  Continental Shelf Research.  31(6):  507 - 526.  doi:  10.1016/j.csr.210.12.007.
  • Elliott, D.T., C.K.  Harris, and K. Tang.  2010.  Dead in the water:  The fate of copepod carcasses in the York River estuary, Virginia.  Limnology and Oceanography.  55(5):  1821 - 1834.  doi:  10.4319/lo.2010.55.5.1821.
  • Ma, Y., C.T. Friedrichs, C.K. Harris, and L.D. Wright.  2010.  Deposition on  the Waiapu, New Zealand continental shelf by seasonal wave- and current-supported sediment gravity flows interacting with spatially varying bathymetry.  Marine Geology.  275:  199 - 211.  doi:  10.1016/j.margeo.2010.06.001.
  • Bever, A.J., C.K. Harris, C.R. Sherwood and R.P. Signell.  2009.  Deposition and flux of sediment from the Po River, Italy:  an idealized and wintertime numerical modeling study.  Marine Geology.  260 (1-4):  69 - 80.
  • Hawley, N., C.K. Harris, B.M. Lesht, and A.H. Clites.  2009.  Sensitivity of a sediment transport model for Lake Michigan.  Journal of Great Lakes Rsearch.  35 (4):  560 - 576.
  • Knsikern, T.A., S.A. Kuehl, C.K. Harris, and L. Carter.  2009.  Sediment accumulation patterns and fine-scale strata formation on the Waiapu River shelf, New Zealand.  Marine Geology, 270 (1-4):  188-201.
  • Harris, C.K., C.R. Sherwood, R.P. Signell, A.J. Bever, and J.C. Warner.  2008.  Sediment dispersal in the northwestern Adriatic Sea.  Journal of Geophysical Research.  113(C11S03).  doi:  10.1029/2006JC003868.
  • Rinehimer, J.P., C.K. Harris, C.R. Sherwood, and L.P. Sanford.  2008.  Estimating cohesive sediment erosion and consolidation in a muddy, tidally-dominated environment:  model behavior and sensitivity.  Estuarine and Coastal Modeling, Proceedings of the Tenth Conference, M.L. Spaulding (editor).  pp 819 - 838.
  • Warner, J.C., C.R.Sherwood, R.P. Signell, C.K. Harris, and H. Arango.  2008.  Development of a three-dimensional, regional, coupled wave-, current-, and sediment-transport model.  Computers and Geosciences.  34:  1284 - 1309.
  • Wheatcroft, R.A., P.L. Wiberg, C.R. Alexander, S.J. Bentley, D.E. Drake, C.K. Harris, and A.S. Ogston. 2008.  Post-depositional alteration and preservation of sedimentary strata.  Chapter III of Continental Margin Sedimentation:  From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy. C.A. Nittrouer et al. (editors).  Blackwell Press.
  • Syvitski, J.P.M., L. Pratson, P. Wiberg, M. Steckler, M. Garcia, R. Geyer, C.K. Harris, E. Hutton, J. Imran, H. Lee, M. Morehead, and G. Parker.  2007.Prediction of margin stratigraphy.  Chapter XI of Continental Margin Sedimentation:  From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy.  C.A. Nittrouer et al. (editors).  Blackwell Press.
  • Kuehl, S. C. Alexander, L. Carter, L. Gerald, T. Gerber, C.K. Harris, J. McNinch, A. Orpin, L. Pratson, J. Syvitski, and J.P. Walsh.  2006. Understanding sediment transfer from land to ocean.  EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union. 87(29): 281, 286.
Graduate Research Opportunities

We invite inquiries from students interested in studying sediment dispersal in coastal environments.  Potential research topics include analysis of sediment redistribution offshore of rivers in New Zealand, in Chesapeake Bay, and the impacts of resuspension on hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. The research will involve analysis of field data, numerical models of sediment transport, written and oral communication skills, and possibly field work. For more details, contact [[ckharris,Dr. Courtney K. Harris]], and review the information for prospective students at VIMS.

Contact Us
Dr. Courtney Harris
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Department of Physical Sciences
P.O. Box 1346 (mailing)
Rt. 1208 (shipping)
Gloucester Point, VA 23062

804-684-7194 (telephone)
804-684-7198 (fax)

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