Annual to decadal morphodynamics of the foredune system at Greenwich Dunes, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Jeff Ollerhead, Robin Davidson-Arnott, Ian J. Walker, Sojan Mathew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to quantify relationships between season, sediment availability, sediment transport pathways, and beach/foredune morphology at Greenwich Dunes, PEI. This was done for periods ranging from a few days to multiple decades using erosion pins, bedframe measurements, annual surveys, and digital photogrammetry using historical aerial photographs. The relative significance of seasonal/annual processes versus response of the foredune system to broader geomorphic controls (e.g. relative sea level rise, storms, etc.) was also assessed. The data show that there are clear seasonal differences in the patterns of sand supply from the beach to the foredune at Greenwich and that there are differences in sediment supply to the foredune between the east and west reaches of the study area, resulting in ongoing differences in foredune morphology. They also demonstrate that models that incorporate wind climate alone, or even models that include other factors like beach moisture, would not be able to predict the amount of sediment movement from the beach to the foredune in this environment unless there were some way to parameterize system morphology, especially the presence or absence of a dune ramp. Finally, the data suggest that the foredune can migrate landward while maintaining its form via transfers of sediment from the stoss slope, over the crest, and onto the lee slope. Although the rate of foredune development or recovery after disturbance changes over time due to morphological feedback, the overall decadal evolution of the foredune system at Greenwich is consistent with, and supports, the Davidson-Arnott (2005) conceptual model of dune transgression under rising sea level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-298
Number of pages15
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 15 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Dune evolution
  • Dune ramp
  • Foredune erosion
  • Morphodynamic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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