Environmental Fluid Mechanics

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 385–404 | Cite as

Undular tidal bores: effect of channel constriction and bridge piers

  • Hubert ChansonEmail author
Original Article


A tidal bore may occur in a macro-tidal estuary when the tidal range exceeds 4.5–6 m and the estuary bathymetry amplifies the tidal wave. Its upstream propagation induces a strong mixing of the estuarine waters. The propagation of undular tidal bores was investigated herein to study the effect of bridge piers on the bore propagation and characteristics. Both the tidal bore profile and the turbulence generated by the bore were recorded. The free-surface undulation profiles exhibited a quasi-periodic shape, and the potential energy of the undulations represented up to 30% of the potential energy of the tidal bore. The presence of the channel constriction had a major impact on the free-surface properties. The undular tidal bore lost nearly one third of its potential energy per surface area as it propagated through the channel constriction. The detailed instantaneous velocity measurements showed a marked effect of the tidal bore passage suggesting the upstream advection of energetic events and vorticity “clouds” behind the bore front in both channel configurations: prismatic and with constriction. The turbulence patches were linked to some secondary motions and the proposed mechanisms were consistent with some field observations in the Daly River tidal bore. The findings emphasise the strong mixing induced by the tidal bore processes, and the impact of bridge structures on the phenomenon.


Undular tidal bores Free-surface undulations Channel constriction Bridge piers Experimental measurements Turbulent events Macro-turbulence 


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Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professor in Civil EngineeringThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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