HWM-33306 Coastal Oceanography and Delta Geology


Studiepunten 6.00

Group work7
Excursion (one day)20
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. AJF Hoitink
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. J Wallinga
S Naqshband
dr. ir. AJF Hoitink
Dr. IRFW Leuven
dr. A Makaske
Examiner(s)dr. A Makaske
dr. ir. AJF Hoitink

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

MAT-23306 Multivariate Mathematics Applied and/or HWM-23806 Geophysical Fluid Mechanics; SGL-22306 Geology, Soils and Landscapes of the Rhine-Meuse Delta.

Continuation courses:

HWM-30306 River Flow and Morphology, SGL-52306 The 4th Dimension in Earth Sciences


Deltas are among the highest populated parts of the world and host many of world's largest cities. Yet, many of these deltas and their inhabitants are under threat as a consequence of combined impacts of sea-level rise and human pressure. This course provides students with insight in physical processes of coastal oceanography and geological processes governing delta evolution, in relation to contemporary threats. The course commences with an overview of tidal theory and geological processes leading to delta development. The role of downstream (sea-level fluctuations) and upstream (freshwater and sediment delivery) controls on deltas are discussed. The focus then shifts to processes in present-day deltas, including sediment dynamics, and oceanography topics such as tidal propagation, wind driven flow, waves, estuarine circulation and river plumes. Geological and oceanography aspects are combined in delta-evolution models, soils and land use are related to delta evolution, and human impacts on short- and long-term delta development are discussed. The course ends with an assessment of the vulnerability of various types of deltas to the combined effects of sea level rise and anthropogenic influences, discussing how the understanding obtained during the course can be used for sustainable delta management.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of the course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the large-scale responses of delta build up and decay in response to upstream and downstream forcing;
- infer how the morphology of deltas is affected by dominant processes;
- analyse a time-series of water levels or flow velocity adopting a harmonic analysis approach;
- examine processes of estuarine circulation in delta channels;
- investigate salt intrusion and river plume spreading;
- evaluate the consequences of human activity to delta evolution, and reflect on potential routes for sustainable delta management.


- lectures where course material is being discussed interactively;
- computer practical work focused on tidal analysis, delta modelling and wave processes;
- two one-day excursions where human pressures and novel management strategies for the Dutch delta are discussed;
- group assignments designed to apply the theory.


The mark for the course will be based on a written exam at the end of the course (5/6) and performance during paper presentations (1/6). To pass the course, the mark for the exam part of the course has to exceed 5.0. 


- reader;
- computer practical guide;
- worked examples for the seminars;
- selected scientific papers- e xcursion guide.

Keuze voor: MEEEarth and EnvironmentMScD: Spec. D - Soil Geography and Earth Surface Dynamics2MO
MEEEarth and EnvironmentMScA: Spec. A - Hydrology and Water Resources2MO