Courtney K. Harris

Alumni Memorial Term Distinguished Associate Professor (2007 – 2010)
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
School of Marine Science
Department of Physical Sciences
Franklin Hall
P.O. Box 1346 (mailing)
Rt. 1208 (shipping)
Gloucester Point, VA 23062 (email)
804-684-7194 (telephone)
804-684-7198 (fax)

Full Curriculum Vita updated February, 2008 in PDF format.

List of publications, updated October, 2006 in PDF format.

Graduate Research Opportunities
Applications invited from students interested in studying sediment dispersal in coastal environments. Multi-year funding available for M.S. or Ph.D. level student. Potential research topics include analysis of sediment redistribution offshore of rivers in New Zealand, in the 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.  This graduate research opportunity is available within the Department of Physical Sciences at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. For more details, contact Dr. Courtney K. Harris (, and review the information for prospective students at VIMS.

Shoreline progradation in Poverty Bay, New Zealand
We are studying sediment redistribution within Poverty Bay, New Zealand, offshore of the Waipaoa River. Funded by the NSF Margins Source to Sink Program, this study has involved field observations of sediment flux and seabed properties.  Work within my group includes developing a three-dimensional numerical model of hydrodynamics and sediment transport for Poverty Bay, and linking our high-resolution simulations to models of stratigraphic development.

Funded by the NSF Co-OP CBED program, MUDBED (MUltidisciplinary Benthic Exchange Dynamics) is examining how interactions between biological and physical processes impact fine-grained sediment resuspension.  My part in the effort involves developing a three-dimensional sediment transport model for the field site, the York River estuary. Planned improvements to the three-dimensional model include better treatment of bed consolidation and flocculation.

Funded by the NOAA, the Northern Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Research Program (NGOMEX) study is examining how physical, geochemical, and sedimentological processes impact hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.  My part in the effort involves developing a three-dimensional sediment transport model for the Texas / Louisiana coast and interfacing the sediment calculations with a biogeochemical model.

Funded by the Office of Naval Research, the EuroSTRATAFORM program hopes to improve our ability to relate water column transport processes to the resulting morphology of the seabed. Work at VIMS included implementation of a sediment transport routine within ROMS, a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model.  ROMS has been used at VIMS to evaluate which processes lead to sediment dispersal and deposition within the Adriatic Sea.

New York Bight
Funded by the US Geological Survey's Pollution Program; this project has worked to quantify sediment transport and flow patterns in the New York Bight offshore of New York and New Jersey.  Especially interesting are sedimentation and flow patterns in the vicinity of the Hudson Shelf Valley- the drowned axis of the paleo-Hudson River. The field observations and modeling program have led to publications that include

  • Bradford Butman, P.S. Alexander, Courtney K. Harris, Peter A. Traykovski, Marilyn B. ten Brink, Frances S. Lightsom, and Marinna A. Martini, 2003.  Oceanographic Observations in the Hudson Shelf Valley, December 1999 - April 2000: Data Report .U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 02-217, DVD-ROM. Request DVD-ROM by emailing; or view contents on the internet version:
  • Harris, C.K., B. Butman, and P. Traykovski.  2003.  Wintertime circulation and sediment transport in the Hudson Shelf Valley.  Continental Shelf Research.  23(8):  801--820.  Request reprint by email:, or view on Science Direct: .
  • Harris, C.K. and R.P. Signell. 1999. Sediment transport in the vicinity of the Hudson shelf valley. In press: the 6th International Conference on Estuarine and Coastal Modeling; ASCE; New Orleans, LA, November, 1999. Request reprint by email:

NOPP Community Sediment Transport Project
Announcing the second workshop for the NOPP Community Sediment Transport Modeling Project; to be held in Williamsburg, Virginia Sept 30 - Oct 2, 2002. For details see

Two Dimensional Sediment Transport Model:

Links related to my work:

  • Flood Proccesses on the Eel River Shelf: 3-D Simulations of sediment delivery and deposition; see:
    1. Harris, C.K., P. Traykovski, and W.R. Geyer.  2005.  Flood dispersal and deposition by near-bed gravitational sediment flows and oceanographic transport:  A numerical modeling study of the Eel River shelf, northern California.  Journal of Geophysical Research. 110(C09025):  d0i:  10.1029 / 2004JC002727.
    2. Harris, C.K., P. Traykovski, and W.R. Geyer. 2004. Including a near-bed turbid layer in a three dimensional sediment transport model with application to the Eel River shelf, northern California. Estuarine and Coastal Modeling; Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference.  M.L. Spaulding, et al. (editors), American Society of Civil Engineers. 784—803. 
  • Rich Signell's page.
  • ROMS (Regional Ocean Modeling System) Web-site.
  • ECOM  (Rich Signell's page about ECOM: a 3-D coastal Circulation model developed by HydroQual).
  • Julie Pullen's website.
  • NODC  (Access to Buoy Data).
  • SWAN  (Simulating WAves Nearshore: wave generation and propogation model from Delft).
  • My Official VIMS web-site.
  • My favorite beach scene.

MS554:  Principles of Numerical Computing

  • Class Web-site, Fall Semester, 2003; Email if you are interested in updated copies of the notes.

MS698-03: Sediment Transport Processes

  • Class Web-site, Spring Semester, 2003; Email if you are interested in updated copies of the notes.

The URL of this page is
Last modified: February, 2008.
For comments and questions, contact Courtney K Harris (email)