Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 55, Issue 5–6, pp 549–558 | Cite as

Two-dimensional equilibrium morphological modelling of a tidal inlet: an entropy based approach

  • Joanna Marie NieldEmail author
  • David John Walker
  • Martin Francis Lambert
Original paper


The management of tidal inlets requires the accurate prediction of equilibrium morphologies. In areas where the flow from rivers is highly regulated, it is important to give decision makers the ability to determine optimal flow management schemes, in order to allow tidal inlets to function as naturally as possible, and minimise the risk of inlet closure. The River Murray Mouth in South Australia is one such problem area. Drought and the retention of water for irrigation and urban water consumption have limited the amount of water entering the estuary. As a result, sediment from the coastal environment is being deposited in the mouth of the estuary, reducing the effect of further coastal interactions. Currently, situations such as this are modelled using traditional process-based methods, where wave, current, sediment transport and sediment balance modules are linked together in a time-stepping process. The modules are reapplied and assessed until a stable morphology is formed. In this paper, new options for modelling equilibrium morphologies of tidal inlets are detailed, which alleviate some of the shortfalls of traditional process-based models, such as the amplification of small errors and reliance on initial conditions. The modelling problem is approached in this paper from a different angle and involves the use of entropy based objective functions, which are optimised in order to find equilibrium morphologies. In this way, characteristics of a system at equilibrium can be recognised and a stable system predicted without having to step through time. This paper also details the use of self-organisation based modelling methods, another non-traditional model application, where local laws and feedback result in the formation of a global stable equilibrium morphology. These methods represent a different approach to traditional models, without some of the characteristics that may add to their limitations.


Tidal inlet Morphological modelling Optimisation Entropy Self-organisation 



The authors acknowledge the role of the Australian Research Council for funding this project and the Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation as the industry partner (project no. LP0227320). The authors also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna Marie Nield
    • 1
    Email author
  • David John Walker
    • 1
  • Martin Francis Lambert
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Civil and Environmental EngineeringThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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