Numerical investigation of solute transport into deformable marine sediments driven by ocean waves

Publication Name

Journal of Hydrology


Most existing studies do not consider the effect that the deformability of submarine sediments may have on solute transport under the action of ocean waves. In this study a two-dimensional numerical model based on Biot's poro-elastic consolidation theory and an advection–dispersion equation is established to investigate the transport of non-reactive solute into a deformable porous seabed under the influence of ocean waves. The numerical model is then validated against experimental and analytical results in order to demonstrate its accuracy and robustness. The simulation results indicate that ignoring the deformability of seabed soil and associated seepage force due to ocean waves may lead to a significant underestimation of the rate of solute transport in shallow layers of marine sediment, particularly fine sand or silt. The effects of parameters such as the shear modulus, non-dimensional mechanical dispersion coefficient (related to particle size and permeability), dimensionless sediment thickness, wave steepness and the relative water depth have on solute transport into deformable sediments were investigated. The results indicate that the ratio of the longitudinal coefficient of mechanical dispersion between deformable and non-deformable sediments that can represent the enhancement of solute migration due to soil deformation may reach up to 85. This becomes more pronounced as the shear modulus and permeability of sediments decrease and the depth of water increases when the sediment thickness is less than 0.8 times the wavelength. The rate of solute transport in deformable sediments reaches its maximum when the sediment thickness is about 0.2 times the wavelength. In fact, as the relative water depth increases from 0.1 to 0.3, the enhancement of solute migration due to wave-induced soil deformation increases by about 60%-80%. In comparison to linear waves, shallow water waves, e.g., the first-order cnoidal waves, can increase the transport of solute more due to its strong non-linear behaviour, particularly in deformable seabed.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Natural Science Foundation of China



Link to publisher version (DOI)