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 and in estuaries 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:

  • Coupled Ocean Modeling Testbed (COMT) Platform for Physics and Contaminant Exchange through the River - Estuary - Ocean Continuum; collaboration with Lousiana State University, Texas A&M University, and GCOOS (Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System). Funded by NOAA.
  • Focused CoPe: Supporting Environmental Justice in Connected Coastal Communities through a Regional Approach to Collaborative Community Science; collaboration led by East Carolina University. Funded by NSF.
  • Fate of Ayeryawady and ThanLien River Sediment, Myanmar:  Relative Importance of Oceanographic and Tectonic Controls.  Funded by NSF.
  • CSOMIO: Consortium for the Simulation of Oil - Microbial Interactions in the Ocean.  Funded by GoMRI (Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative).
  • Shelf-slope sediment exchange in the northern Gulf of Mexico:  Application of numerical models for extreme events. Funded by BOEM.
  • Feedbacks between fine-grained sediment transport, biological and geochemical processes within the York River and Gulf of Mexico. Funded by NSF.

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.

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 Myanmar, and the impacts of resuspension on geochemistry in the Gulf of Mexico and mid-Atlantic Bight. The research will involve analysis and development of numerical models of sediment transport, written and oral communication skills, and possibly field work. For more information, contact [[ckharris,Dr. Courtney K. Harris]], and review the information for prospective students at VIMS.

  • Courtney Harris, Professor.
    Full C.V.
  • Elisa Aitoro (M.S. student)
Past Graduate Students and Post-Docs
  • Aaron Bever, Ph.D. 2010
  • Justin Birchler, M.S. 2014
  • Linlin Cui, Postdoctoral Researcher, 2019 - 2021
  • Matt Fair, M.S., 2019
  • Tara Kniskern, Ph.D. 2007; Postdoctoral Researcher, 2010 - 2017
  • Yanxia (Amy) Ma, Ph.D. 2009
  • Julia Moriarty, Ph.D. 2017
  • J.Paul Rinehimer, M.S. 2008
  • Danielle Tarpley, PhD, 2020
  • Kehui Xu, Postdoctoral Researcher, 2007 - 2008
Past Visiting Students
  • Dr. Salik Rosing, Visiting Student from University of Copenhagen, 2015
  • Jongwi Chang, Visiting Student from Inha University, 2017
  • Dr. Chenghao Wang, Visiting Student from Ocean University of China, 2019 - 2020
Publications 2016-present

  • Cui, L., C.K. Harris, and D.R. Tarpley. 2021. Formation of Oil – Particle – Aggregates: Numerical model formulation and calibration. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8:629476. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.629476.
  • Dukhovskoy, D.S., S.L. Morey, E.P. Chassignet, X. Chen, V.J. Coles, L. Cui, C.K. Harris, R. Hetland, A. Manning, M. Stukel, K. Thyng, J. Wang. 2021. Overview of the CSOMIO coupled ocean-oil-sediment-biology model. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8:629299.  doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.629299.
  • Moriarty, J.M., M.A.M. Friedrichs, and C.K. Harris. 2021 Seabed resuspension in the Chesapeake Bay: Implications for biogeochemical cycling and hypoxia. Estuaries and Coasts 44, 103–122.
  • Chang, J., G-H. Lee, C.K. Harris, Y. Song, S. Figueroa, N. Schieder, and K. Lagamayo. 2020. Sediment transport mechanisms in altered depositional environments of the Anthropocene Nakdong Estuary: A numerical modeling study. Marine Geology, 430, p.106364.
  • Harris, C.K., J. Syvitski, H.G. Arango, E.H. Meiburg, S. Cohen, C.J. Jenkins, J.J. Birchler, E.W.H. Hutton, T.A. Kniskern, S. Radhakrishnan, G. Auad. 2020. Data-driven, multi-model workflow suggests strong influence from hurricanes on the generation of turbidity currents in the Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering (JMSE), 8: 586,
  • Wang, C., Z. Liu, C.K. Harris, X. Wu, H. Wang, C. Bian, N. Bi, H. Duan, J. Xu. 2020. The impact of winter storms on sediment transport through a narrow strait, Bohai, China, Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans. 2020JC016069.
  • Liu, J.P, S.A. Kuehl, A.C. Pierce, J. Williams, N.E. Blair, C.K. Harris, D. Wa Aung, Y.Y. Aye. 2020. Fate of Ayeyarwady and Thanlwin Rivers sediments in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal. Marine Geology. j.margeo.2020.106137.
  • Tarpley, D.R., C.K. Harris, C.T. Friedrichs, and C.R. Sherwood. 2019.  Tidal variation in cohesive sediment distribution and sensitivity to flocculation and bed consolidation in an idealized, partially mixed estuary.  Journal of Marine Science and Engineering (JMSE); 7: 334; doi:10.3390/jmse7100334.
  • Kuehl, S.A., J. Williams, J.P. Liu, C. Harris, D.W. Aung, D. Tarpley, M. Goodwyn, and Y.Y. Aye. 2019. Sediment dispersal and accumulation off the Ayeyarwady delta – Tectonic and oceanographic controls.  Marine Geology. 417: 10.1016/j.margeo.2019.106000
  • Birchler, J.J., C.K. Harris, T.A. Kniskern, and C.R. Sherwood.  2018.  Numerical model of geochronological tracers for deposition and reworking applied to the Mississippi subaqueous delta.  Journal of Coastal Research; 10.2112/S185-092.
  • Birchler, J.J., C.K. Harris, C.R. Sherwood, and T.A. Kniskern. 2018.  Sediment transport model including short-lived radioisotopes:  Model description and idealized test cases.  Journal of Marine Science and Engineering (JMSE). 6: 144; doi:10.3390/ jmse6040144.
  • Moriarty, J.M., C.K. Harris, M.A.M. Friedrichs, K. Fennel, and K. Xu.  2018.  Role of seabed resuspension on oxygen and nitrogen dynamics in the northern Gulf of Mexico:  a Numerical modeling study.  Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans. 2018JC013950. (Featured Article on the JGR portal, spring 2019).
  • Sherwood, C.R., A.L. Aretxabaleta, C.K. Harris, J.P. Rinehimer, R. Verney, B. Ferré.  2018.  Cohesive and mixed sediment in the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS v3.6) implemented in the Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Wave Sediment-Transport Modeling System (COAWST r1179).  Geoscientific Model Development;
  • Moriarty, J.M., C.K. Harris, K. Fennel, M. Friedrichs, K. Xu, and C. Rabouille. 2017.  The roles of resuspension, diffusion and biogeochemical processes on oxygen dynamics offshore of the Rhone River, France: A numerical modeling study.  Biogeosciences, 14, 1919-1946, DOI:  10.5194/bg-14-1919-2017.
  • Kuehl, S.A., C.R. Alexander, N.E. Blair, C.K. Harris, K.M. Marsaglia, A.S. Ogston, A.R. Orpin, J.J. Roering, A.J. Bever, E.L. Bilderback, L. Carter, C. Cerovski-Darriau, L.B. Childress, D.R. Corbett, R.P. Hale, E.L. Leithold, N. Litchfield, J.M. Moriarty, M.J. Page, L.E.R. Pierce, P. Upton, J.P. Walsh. 2016.  A source to sink perspective of the Waipaoa River margin.  Earth-Science Reviews, DOI: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2015.10.001.
  • Xu, K., R.C. Mickey, Q.J. Chen, C.K. Harris, R. Hetland, K. Hu, J. Wang. 2016. Shelf sediment transport during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Computers & Geosciences, DOI:  10.1016/j.cageo.2015.10.009.
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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