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ELSEVIER Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89-103

Depositional patterns of sand ridges in tide-dominated shallow

water environments: Yellow Sea coast and South Sea of Korea
S.C. Park, S.D. Lee
Department of Oceanography, Chungnam National University, Taejon 305-764, South Korea
Received 18 March 1993; revision accepted 21 February 1994


The continental shelf of the Yellow Sea and the Korean South Sea is a tide-dominated shelf. A number of sand
ridges occur in this area which form bathymetric highs. Surveyed were one large sand ridge (Jangan Satoe) along the
western (Yellow Sea) coast and a group of mid-shelf sand ridges in the South Sea, to delineate their depositional
pattern and probable origin in tide-dominated shallow water environments. Analyses of sediment samples, side-scan
sonographs, and seismic profiles reveal that these ridges show regionally different characteristics in morphology,
bedforms, and sediment. The sand ridge in the Yellow Sea shows a composite form of various bedforms including
sand waves and megaripples. This ridge is interpreted to be in an accretional active stage, maintained by strong tidal
currents. In contrast, the sand ridges on the mid-shelf of the South Sea show rounded, single forms without bedforms
on them. They are interpreted to represent moribund-type sand ridges in the shelf environment, which were formed
near the shoreline during the Holocene sea-level transgression. These ridges developed off the paleo-Seomjin River
during a period of a stillstand or slow sea-level rise approximately between 10,000 and 7000 yrs B,P.

I. Introduction Similar tidal sand ridges have been described

from m a n y parts of the world continental shelves,
The Yellow Sea and Korean South Sea are parts including the N o r t h Sea (Houbolt, 1968; Stride,
of an epi¢ontinental shelf in which tidal currents 1982; Kenyon et al., 1981; Davies and Balson,
play the most important role in the sediment 1992), the western Yellow Sea off China (Zhenxia
transport and dispersal. A number of sand ridges et al., 1989), the southern Yellow Sea and the East
have been reported in this area (Off, 1963; Klein China Sea (Yang and Sun, 1988; Yang, 1989), and
et al., 1982; K i m et al., 1984; Cho, 1985; Cho
the southwest Florida inner shelf (Davies et al.,
et al., 1985; Park and Yoo, 1988), which form
1993). These sand ridges are regarded as either
bathymetric highs. These ridges extend in a direc-
active or moribund, depending on their morphol-
tion parallel to, or at a small angle, with the
dominant tidal currents and are known to have a ogy, bedforms, and tidal currents on them. O f all
tidal origin (Off, 1963; Klein et al., 1982). The these criteria, the most important factor is as to
sand ridges in the Yellow Sea occur along the whether they respond to the present tidal-current
coast in less than 30-40 m of water and form the system actively or not (Stride, 1982; Kenyon
most significant features on the bathymetric map. et al., 1981).
In contrast, the sand ridges in the Korean South We surveyed one large sand ridge, Jangan Satoe
Sea are present on the mid-shelf in water depths (Satoe means sand body), along the Yellow Sea
of 50 90 m. coast and a group of sand ridges on the mid-shelf

0025-3227/94/$7.00 © 1994 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved

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90 S.C. Park, S.D. Lee~Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89 103

of the South Sea (Fig. 1). They show different during the summer rainy season. These fine-
characteristics and may reflect a different origin. grained sediments are seasonally resuspended by
In this paper, we analyze their geometry, sediment wave action and transported offshore along the
texture, and mineralogy, and discuss their deposi- coast as a result of the combined influence of tidal
tional pattern and probable origin. Textural and and wind-generated coastal currents (Chough and
structural information on two areas of sand ridge Kim, 1981; Chough, 1983). For the present study,
occurrence also provides a key to distinguish the we surveyed Jangan Satoe, one of the large sand
shelf sand ridges whether they are active or mori- bodies in the nearshore along the western coast
bund. The research into these tidal sand ridges is (Fig. l a). The ridge crest has a water depth of 5
also essential to the study of depositional models m below mean sea level, while the trough is as
of large sand bodies in shelf environments. deep as 25 m. The adjacent sea floor is covered by
a thin veneer (less than 5 m) of fine to medium
sands which are well to moderately sorted (Choi
2. Study area et al., 1992). The land geology in this area mainly
consists of Precambrian metamorphic rocks such
2.1. Yellow Sea as schist, quartzite and gneiss which are intruded
by Jurassic granite ( Korea Institute of Energy and
The Yellow Sea shelf of the Korean Peninsula Resources, 1981). These rocks extend seaward and
is a post-glacially submerged, ria-type shelf. This form the basement rocks of the near-coastal area.
area has a macrotidal environment with the tidal
range up to 9 m. The large tidal range and resulting 2.2. South Sea
strong tidal currents produce a complex and
dynamic regime in terms of sediment erosion and The study area is located on the mid-shelf in the
deposition (Song et al., 1983; Adams et al., 1990; Korean South Sea. The water depth ranges from
Choi, 1990; Choi et al., 1992). The tidal currents 50 to 90 m (Fig. lb). This area is covered by relict
flow generally in a northeastern direction during sands or gravelly sands which were formed close
flood and are largely southwestern during ebb, to the shoreline during the late Pleistocene sea-
with a maximum velocity of more than 100 cm/s level lowstand (Cho, 1985; Lee and Chough, 1989;
(Korea Hydrographic Office, 1989). Wind direc- Choi, 1990). We surveyed a group of sand ridges
tions in this area are dominated by the northerly which are apparently parallel to the present
or northwesterly wind in winter and southerly and bathymetry. These ridges have a relief of more
southwesterly wind in summer. Analyses of wind- than 7 m with the adjacent sea floor. The inner
driven, surface gravity waves in the Yellow Sea shelf area, with a water depth of less than ~ 50 m
(Kang and Choi, 1984) indicate that the wind- presently receives large amounts of sediments
generated wave action is important for resuspen- derived mainly from the Seomjin River, one of the
sion of fine sediment particles in the nearshore. major rivers in the southern coast of Korea (Kim
Large volumes of suspended, fine-grained sedi- et al., 1992). Most coarse-grained sediments (sand
ments (fine silt and clay) are transported to the and coarse silt) are deposited near the river mouth,
south and eventually into the Korea Strait as a forming a subaqueous delta, while the remaining
result of the stronger winter winds and resulting fine-grained sediments (fine silt and clay) are trans-
wind-driven residual currents (Wells, 1988). ported further offshore and deposited on the inner
The offshore sediments of the Yellow Sea largely shelf (Park et al., 1984; Kim and Kang, 1991).
consist of well sorted, fine sands (2-3 ~b) which The thickness of these fine-grained sediments on
have been actively reworked during sea-level low- the inner shelf reaches up to 20 m (Hong, 1991).
stands (Lee et al., 1988). However, the coastal The coastal area of the South Sea is mesotidal,
embayments and intertidal flats along the western with the tidal range between 2 and 4 m. Tidal
coast of Korea are dominated by muddy sediments currents flow largely in west-southwest directions
that are mainly derived from the Korean rivers during flood and in east-northeast directions
S.C. Park, S.D. Lee/Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89 103 91

10 126°15"E 20' 25


, J,

~ S 10kin gC~b ~ J E DO
40~N " EAST

34 °
30; N
t2(I'E 13o°E
I t

20 •

10 •
I I ~- ~ - - ~ I
10; 20 ~ 1280 30 'E 40 •

Fig. 1. Index m a p showing the locations of a large-scale sand ridge (Jangan Satoe) in the Yellow Sea, and a group of sand ridges
in the South Sea of Korea. (a) Jangan Satoe in the Yellow Sea occurs at a water depth of less than 30 m and extends in a N E - S W
direction along the coast. The box in the northeastern part of the ridge is an area of detailed study (see Fig. 2). (b) The sand ridges
in the South Sea are present on the mid-shelf in 50-90 m of water. Chart with bathymetry shows tracklines of U n i b o o m and echo-
sounding survey. Thick lines are sand ridges identified in the present study; A F indicate the locations of profiles shown in Figs. 6
and 7.
92 S.C. Park, S.D. Lee/Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89-103

during ebb, with a near-surface maximum velocity corer were used for collecting surface sediments
of 100 cm/s ( K o r e a Hydrographic Office, 1982). and core sediments, respectively. The cores were
An eastward coastal current is superimposed on photographed and described immediately after
the tidal currents in the nearshore (Lim, 1976). opening. At 20 cm intervals downcore, about 20 g
The offshore area is influenced by the eastward samples were taken and prepared for grain size
Tsushima Current throughout the year. The repre- analysis. The grain size as well as the mineralogy
sentative surface flow speed of this current is and roundness of sands were determined using the
30 90 cm/s, being strongest in summer and weak- techniques described previously.
est in winter ( K o r e a Hydrographic Office, 1982).

4. Sand ridge in the Yellow Sea coast

3. Materials and methods
4.1. Geometry and bedJbrms
3.1. Yellow Sea
Jangan Satoe in the Yellow Sea extends in a
The northeastern part of Jangan Satoe was S W - N E direction along the shore (Fig. 1). Its
intensively surveyed on a small boat in July, 1990. trend coincides apparently with the flow directions
An echo-sounder (Raytheon model DE-719B) was of the prevailing tidal currents. The ridge, which
employed for bathymetry, while large bedforms is convex to the northwest, has a length of 23.5 km
on the sand ridge were studied using a side-scan and a width of 0.8 2.2 km. It has a relief of about
sonar (Klein model 521) (Fig. 2A). Along with 20 m with the sea floor. The ridge can be divided
the bathymetry and side-scan sonar survey, the into three parts according to the symmetry and
surface sediments were also collected with a Dietz- orientation. The southwestern part of the ridge is
Lafond grab sampler. Grain size determination of oriented 35°-215 ° and asymmetric with the north-
sediment samples was carried out using a standard western side steeper than the southeastern side.
dry sieving technique. Sediment statistics were The middle part of the ridge is aligned in 55 ° 235 °
calculated using the method of moments (Griffith, directions, with the southeastern side steeper than
1967). Mineralogical analysis and roundness meas- the northwestern one. However, the northeastern
urements of sands were conducted on subsamples part of the ridge is nearly symmetric and oriented
of the 250 500 ~tm (2-1 ~b) fraction; about 300 75°-255 ° . In order to understand the detailed
grains were prepared and counted under a micro- geometry, size and orientation of the bedforms on
scope. Tidal currents were monitered at one station the ridge, approximately 40 km of echo-sounding
in the northeastern part of the ridge (Fig. 2A). and side-scan sonar survey was carried out on the
Measurements were made near the surface and at northeastern margin of Jangan Satoe (Fig. 2A).
the near-bottom (1 m above the sea bed) with a Side-scan sonographs and echo-sounding data
direct reading current meter (Valeport model BFM reveal a series of large-scale bedforms on Jangan
008 M K III). Satoe in the Yellow Sea, which were not observed
on the sand ridges in the South Sea. The most
3.2. South Sea distinctive bedforms are large sand waves and
megaripples (dunes). Megaripples occur indepen-
High-resolution Uniboom profiles, previously dently or are superimposed on sand waves. Small
collected by the Agency for Defense Development, ripples could not be detected by our echo-sounding
Korea, were examined in the present study in order and side-scan sonar systems. Most sand waves and
to interpret the internal structures of the sand megaripples are aligned at small angles (about
ridges. The geometry and large bedforms were 10°-20 ° ) with the strike of the ridge crest. These
studied using an echo-sounder (Raytheon model large bedforms show regional differences in
DE-719B) and a side-scan sonar (Klein model morphology and size, and permit us to map the
521). A Dietz-Lafond grab sampler and a piston distributions of bedform facies (Fig. 2B).

\ .~. /', j-_7~. ,,~ ~,~ k.."

~,gy ~ "\ j / ~ . 4 x - ~ . ~ ~-
5" ~ / \ ', Ia-s "---J
__N- I

~ / ~ Type 1
Type 2
0 ~ 1 ..... E c h o - s o u n d e r and
Side scan s o n a r
km Type 3
• Surface sediment

X Current measurement TYpe 4 t~


~ ~ " ...,.-"......,• .,..lOm"'i..."


..... crest of sand r i d g e .......... BathymetrY in 19T3

Bedform crest and d i r e c t i o n
of s l i p - f a c e Present bathymetry

Fig. 2. Map showing the northeastern part of Jangan Satoe in the Yellow Sea for the present study (for location, see Fig. la). (A) Tracklines of side-scan sonar and
echo-sounding survey. Stations of surface sediments and current measurement are also indicated. (B) Distribution of bedform facies types shown in Fig. 3 (for details,
see text). (C) Orientation of large bedforms at small angles ( 10° 20 °) with the direction of the ridge crest. Bedforms are mostly asymmetric, with slip faces toward
the ridge crest. (D) Superposition of the 1973 and present bathymetric maps, indicating a remarkable change of the ridge during the last 20 years.
94 S.C. Park, S.D. Lee~Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89-103

The bedform facies can be classified into four sediment samples retrieved from Jangan Satoe are
types. Fig. 2B summarizes our findings about bed- mainly composed of moderately to well sorted
form distribution on Jangan Satoe. Fig. 3 shows coarse sands with a mean grain size between
the sonographs and echo-profiles of each bedform 4 1 0 # m (1.28 q~) and 1400#m ( - 0 . 6 9 ~b). The
type. Facies 1 is characterized by large sand waves sample J-7 is relatively poorly sorted due to abun-
with a width of 150-200 m and a height of over 3 dant shell fragments. The sediment samples
m. They are generally asymmetrical in cross section obtained from the trough of the sand ridge (sample
with a slip-face toward the ridge crest. The width/ numbers: J-2, J-4 and J-5, see Table 1) are coarser
height ratio is generally between 30 and 50. The than the sediments from the crest and flank of the
distribution of this facies is restricted to the north- sand ridge (sample numbers: J-l, J-3, J-6, J-7, J-8
eastern margin of Jangan Satoe. Facies 2 represents and J-9). Especially, the sediment sample (J-5)
sand waves with a width of 80-100 m and a height recovered from the southern trough contains high
of about 3 m. The cross sections of the sand waves amounts of gravels and shell fragments larger than
are asymmetrical or nearly symmetrical. The 1 cm in diameter. The sediments on the crest are
width/height ratio is generally between 20 and 30. better sorted than those on both flanks of the
This bedform facies is present over a wide area of ridge. The sand consists mainly of quartz
the ridge. Facies 3 consists of sand waves with a (60 72%), feldspar (27-33%), and rock fragments
width between 50 and 70 m and a height of less (3-10%), thus comprising an arkosic arenite
than 1 m. This facies shows a rounded feature (Fig. 4). Roundness measurements show that the
with a width/height ratio greater than 50. Facies
sands are subangular, indicative of less maturity.
4 reflects megaripples on the crest of the ridge
where sand waves are not present. These mega-
ripples have a width of 5 10 m and a height of
4.3. Current data
less than 0.3 m. The megaripples on the ridge have
similar orientations as the sand waves. Most sand
Fig. 5 shows the variations of velocity and direc-
waves (bedform facies 1, 2 and 3) have megaripples
tion of surface and bottom (1 m above sea bed)
superimposed on them.
tidal currents, measured at one station in the
Bedform orientations determined from echo-
northeastern part of Jangan Satoe during spring
sounding and side-scan sonar mapping are shown
in Fig. 2C. Generally, the profile of bedforms on
Because of harsh weather conditions and
both flanks of the ridge is asymmetrical, with their
steep slopes toward the ridge crest. On the ridge Korean navigation security regulations, we were
crest, however, the sand waves are nearly symmet- not able to measure the tidal currents continuously
rical. This convergent pattern of bedforms to the longer than 10 hours. However, time-velocity
ridge crest is more distinctive in the larger bed- curves (Fig. 5) show that the general patterns of
forms. Our echo-sounding and side-scan sonar tidal currents in this area are quite similar to those
survey was slarted from the eastern end of the observed by the Korea Hydrographic Office
sand ridge at the beginning of flood, and was (1989). The dominant flow direction of tidal cur-
ended at nearly the same site at the end of tide. rents is northeast (40°-50 ° ) during flood and
During the survey, the steeper sides of the bed- southwest (220 ° 230 °) during ebb (Fig. 5), which
forms on both flanks of the ridge faced toward is oriented about 25 ° 35 ° to the long axis of the
the ridge crest regardless of the turning of the tide. ridge crest. During each tidal cycle, current veloci-
ties of more than 100cm/s are maintained for
several hours. The maximum current velocity
4.2. Sediment characteristics occurs generally about 3 hours after high and low
waters. The current velocity does not show much
The textural and mineralogical data of the sedi- difference between surface and bottom. Previous
ment samples are presented in Table 1. Bottom measurements of tidal currents (Song and Park,

'• ~. 100 m

m ~




I 200m _~ [ 2oom (



100 m ~ "~ 100 m

NE ~
1 ~ :~
~'~s~--r~ ~ ~ NW
m ~: I~:~ ~ m !~
, =
20-- 20-

30"- 30"

I 2oom I I 20o,. I

Fig. 3. Sonographs and echo-sounding profiles showing bedform types. (A), (B), (C) and (D) represent bedform facies l, 2, 3 and 4, respectively, which have been
mapped in Fig. 2B. See text for explanation of facies.
96 S.C. Park, S.D. Lee~Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89-103

Table 1
Texture, roundness (after Powers, 1953), and mineral composition of surfacial sediments collected from the sand ridges in the
Yellow Sea and South Sea (for location, see Figs. 2 and 7). Mineral composition and roundness values represent the medium sand
fraction (250-500/~m). Q = quartz, F = feldspar, RF =rock fragment; N.D. =no data

Station Mean Sorting Sediment Mineral composition (%) Roundness

no. (~b) (~b) type

Yellow Sea
J-I 0.93 0.50 sand 71.43 25.14 3.43 0.29
J-2 -0.50 0.77 gravelly sand 60.67 32.04 7.18 0.28
J-3 0.60 0.54 sand 63.72 29.20 7.08 0.29
J-4 -0.69 0.86 sandy gravel 62.43 27.62 9.94 0.32
J-5 N.D. N.D. gravel N.D. N.D. N.D. N.D.
J-6 0.78 0.50 sand 62.27 32.27 5.45 0.29
J-7 0.35 1.30 sand 62.24 27.55 10.20 0.40
J-8 0.49 0.37 sand 60.09 32.57 7.34 0.29
J-9 1.28 0.45 sand 65.28 29.34 5.38 0.29
South Sea
S-1 2.10 0.50 sand 76.67 20.30 3.03 0.31
S-2 1.97 0.49 sand 82.53 15.66 1.81 0.42
S-3 1.77 0.67 sand 80.00 16.00 4.00 0.46
S-4 1.50 1.37 gravelly sand 79.04 18.56 1.81 0.42
S-5 1.60 0.59 sand 85.52 12.41 2.07 0.39
S-6 2.17 0.47 sand 78.44 16.17 5.39 0.42
S-7 2.00 0.90 sand 89.38 8.85 1.77 0.41
S-8 2.07 0.65 sand 82.95 17.05 0.00 0.30
S-9 1.50 0.57 sand 78.80 20.65 0.54 0.41

QUARTZ 1987) in the s o u t h e r n t r o u g h o f the s a n d r i d g e

~ arenite s h o w v e l o c i t i e s o f m o r e t h a n 60 c m / s d u r i n g n e a p
tide. T h e y s u g g e s t e d t h a t t h e r e is little a s y m m e t r y
Subark~~ b e t w e e n f l o o d a n d e b b c u r e n t s in this area.
> SubiitehniCte

5. Sand ridges in the South Sea

5.1. Geometry and structure

Arkosic F i v e s a n d ridges p a r a l l e l to the b a t h y m e t r y w e r e

identified in w a t e r d e p t h s o f 5 0 - 9 0 m in t h e S o u t h
S e a ( F i g . l b ) . T h e s e ridges are 1 4 - 5 0 k m l o n g a n d
oriented ENE-WSW. They have widths of 2-5 km
FELDSPAR 50 ROCK a n d h e i g h t s o f 7 13 m ; the a v e r a g e s p a c i n g
b e t w e e n t h e m is 9 km. T h e ridges are n e a r l y s y m -
Fig. 4. Ternary diagram showing the mineral composition of m e t r i c a l in c r o s s s e c t i o n a n d s h o w a r o u n d e d crest
surfacial sediments collected from the sand ridges. The sand ( F i g s . 6 a n d 7). T h e y a r e n o t as p r o n o u n c e d as
(dots) on the Yellow Sea ridge (Jangan Satoe) is an arkosic
arenite while that (circles) on the South Sea sand ridges J a n g a n S a t o e in the Y e l l o w Sea. T h e l a r g e b e d -
comprises a subarkose in Pettijohn's (1975) classification f o r m s ( s a n d w a v e s a n d m e g a r i p p l e s ) w h i c h are
scheme. d i s t i n c t i v e o n the Y e l l o w Sea s a n d ridge ( J a n g a n
S.C. Park, S.D. Lee/Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89-103 97



/ .,,./, /I /~
,///I / 11//fl l/
0 /




I I I l I I I I I I I I
200 I I

,so Bottom ( 1 m above the sea floor)



E 0 /t/..-

'~ 50




(-) I~0

200 I , t t [ I l I I i I n I I
HW I 2 3 4 5 6 LW 1 2 3 4 5 6

Time (Hours after High and Low Water)

Fig. 5. Time-velocity curves showing variations of speed and direction of surface and bottom tidal currents, measured at one
station in the northeastern margin of Jangan Satoe. See Fig. 2A for location of current measurement.
98 S.C. Park, S.D. Lee~Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89 103


120 -

140 -

1 km

100 -

Fig. 6. Uniboom profiles E and F in the South Sea, showing the rounded ridge geometry and subsurface structure (for location, see
Fig. lb). The internal structure of ridges is nearly transparent except some gently dipping bed in profile F. Vertical axis is two-way
time (milliseconds) and 10 ms corresponds to approximately 8 m of sediment.

Satoe) were not observed on the sand ridges in the S-8) on the landward flank of each sand ridge are
South Sea. generally finer than the sediments on the seaward
The Uniboom profiles show that the mid-shelf flank (sample numbers: S-3, S-4, S-5 and S-9).
sand ridges in the south Sea show little indication Mineralogical analyses show that the sand is a
of stratification within the ridge (Fig. 6). However, subarkose (Fig. 4), consisting mainly of quartz
some dipping strata can be detected within the (76-89%), feldspar (9 20%), and rock fragments
ridge in some locations. These beds show apparent (0-5%). The sands forming the sand ridges are
reflectors inclined offshore, indicating appreciable subrounded.
aggradation of the ridge during development. Fig. 7 shows the description of sediment cores
collected from the South Sea sand ridges. The
5.2. Sediment characteristics cores do not show any vertical facies changes. The
sediments are composed mainly of well sorted,
Data on surface sediments obtained from the medium to fine sand, except the poorly sorted sedi-
sand ridges in the South Sea show that the ments (Core SC-2) recovered from the trough. The
sediment samples consist mainly of moderately core sediments obtained from the seaward flank
to moderately well sorted, medium to fine sand and trough regions contain abundant shell frag-
(Table l). The mean grain size is between 220/~m ments, whereas the sediments from the landward
(2.17 ~b) and 350#m (1.50 ~b). Ridge crest and flank show clean sands without shell debris. The
flanks are mantled by fine to medium sands, latter are finer in grain size than the former
whereas the troughs between the ridges are floored throughout the core section. The shell fragments
by poorly sorted, gravelly sands. The sediment in the cores consist mainly of shallow marine
samples (sample numbers: S-l, S-2, S-6, S-7 and bivalves.
S.C. Park, S.D. Lee~Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89 103 99

2 4 6 8 2 4 6 8 km
40[ S-l' S-2 ~S_3' '

40 i

6C SC-4

Mz Sd Mz Sd Mz Sd
1 2 0 1 • ? 9 ! g _ .~ ?.~. o !
o/ -f
sc-1 " SC-2 ,u¢~' SC-3
e. 2 t "~ .~.~..
". \ / AU
.%'- " "
::-: ./ !
-~U' , 'IAUl
-%' (°
-.: \
•::? /
• , ° i[ - -.
:e- :

0" i~'.! - - ~
1 2 0 1 0 .___..
2 0
-Y- 1

.:,. 1
SC-4 SC-5
20" :,",0.
:-i- /3U" S
• .. %.,
- .- i o •
"UA -
i °o° o G

i ,.,~


Fig. 7. Sampling stations of surface sediments (S-1 to S-9) and sediment cores (SC-1 to SC-5) along ridge profiles A to D in the
South Sea (for location, see Fig. 1 ). The sediment cores are vertically described by means of lithology, and mean grain size (Mz)
and sorting value (Sd) in ~b units. S = s a n d , G=gravel, SF=shell fragment.
100 S. C. Park, S.D. Lee~Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89-103

6. Discussion port on sand ridges (Swift et al., 1977; Swift and

Field, 1981; McCave and Langhorne, 1982). The
6.1. Active tidal sand ridge in the Yellow Sea bedforms in the study area are mostly asymmetric
and oriented obliquely at angles of about 35°-55 °
The presence of sand waves on sand ridges is with the dominant tidal currents. The asymmetric
regarded as a primary evidence of actively main- pattern of these bedforms, with a steep-side facing
tained sand ridge (Klein et al., 1982; Stride, 1982; toward the ridge crest (Fig. 2C), indicates that
Kenyon et al., 1981; Davies et al., 1993). Stride sand transport on the sand ridge is controlled by
(1982) suggested that the actively maintained flood tidal currents on the southern flank and
ridges are found where the near-surface mean by ebb tidal currents on the northern flank.
spring peak tidal currents generally attain over Superposition of the 1973 and present bathymetric
50 cm/s. Available information, including sediment maps (Fig. 2D) shows a remarkable change of the
texture, bedforms, current data, and geometry, ridge during the last 20 years. All these data
indicates that Jangan Satoe in the Yellow Sea is a indicate that Jangan Satoe is now an active tidal
tidal sand ridge which actively responds to the sand ridge which responds continuously to the
present tidal-current system. Sand waves and meg- present hydraulic regime.
aripples are the most common bedforms detected
during our echo-sounding and side-scan sonar 6.2. Moribund sand ridges in the South Sea
survey, and their surface features are analogous to
those reported from the North Sea tidal sand The mid-shelf sand ridges in the South Sea, with
ridges (Houbolt, 1968; Stride, 1982) and from the gentle slopes and rounded crests, are less promi-
western and southeastern Yellow Sea tidal sand nent bathymetric features than Jangan Satoe in
ridges (Klein et al., 1982; Zhenxia et al., 1989). the Yellow Sea. The top of the South Sea sand
Tidal currents on Jangan Satoe are very strong. ridges is covered by fine to medium sands which
Maximum current velocities range from neap are finer and better rounded than those on Jangan
values of 60 cm/s to spring values of over 150 cm/s. Satoe. The absence of large bedforms such as. sand
The coarse sand sediment that typifies this sand waves and megaripples indicates that they are
ridge can be moved by these currents for several moribund-type sand ridges which are not active at
hours each tidal cycle. Analyses of tidal-current present. Stride (1982) suggested that the moribund
data, measured from other locations in the adja- sand ridges are found where the tidal currents now
cent area over a period of one month (Choi, 1991; reach a near-surface mean spring peak speed of
Choi and Park, 1992), show that the mean value less than about 50cm/s. In the study area, the
of boundary shear velocities is 2.39 cm/s which is hydrodynamic conditions near the sea surface are
much higher than the critical shear velocity dominated by the warm Tsushima Current flowing
(1.40 cm/s) needed to move the sediment particles into the Korea Strait; the surface flow speed is
on the order of 1 2 q~ on the sand ridge. The generaly 30-90 cm/s (Korea Hydrographic Office,
surface sediments on Jangan Satoe shows a general 1982). With increasing water depth, the influence
trend of finer grain size up the crest; the sediment of the Tsushima current decreases while tidal cur-
on the upper flanks and crest mainly consists of rents become more important. The tidal current
coarse sand whereas gravelly sand is dominant in velocity measured near the sea bed (at a water
the trough and on the lower flanks of the ridge. depth of 80 m) is less than 30 cm/s (Shim et al.,
This pattern of grain-size distribution suggests the 1984). It is considered that the present-day tidal
winnowing of finer sediment in the trough region currents over the sand ridges are less than that
of the ridge due to the strong tidal currents. The required for their formation and maintenance.
gravels and shells in the trough represent a lag Similar moribund-type sand ridges have been also
deposit as a result of bottom scouring. reported on the East China Sea shelf in water
Asymmetry of large bedforms has been used as depths of 50 100 m (Yang and Sun, 1988; Yang,
a good indicator to explain the net sediment trans- 1989). These ridges occur mainly in the submerged
S.C. Park, S.D. Lee/Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89-103 101

paleovalley of the Changjiang River, and their ridges indicates reworking and transport of a small
scales are generally comparable with those in the portion of fine sands in response to the reduced
South Sea of Korea. tidal currents superimposed on storm-generated
A wide area of the mid-shelf of the South Sea wave action. Wind-generated wave action in this
is covered by a thin veneer (less than 2-3 m) of area usually influences the water depth less than
relict sands which were formed close to the shore- 30 m (Kang and Choi, 1984). However, some
line during the early Holocene transgression (Kim sporadic storms may displace the offshore limit of
et al., 1984; Cho et al., 1985; Cho, 1985; Park and substantial reworking processes to a deeper, open
Yoo, 1988). Recent data from the Korean conti- shelf. A further research is needed to understand
nental shelf indicate that sea level rose rapidly in the stratigraphy and evolution of the sand ridges
the early Holocene time (about 16,000-10,000 yrs in the South Sea.
B.P.) and came to a period of stillstand or slow
rise approximately between 10,000 and 7000 yrs
B.P. (Min, 1994). The sand ridges in the South 7. Conclusions
Sea were probably formed during this period. Cho
(1985) and Min (1993) propose that these ridges Analyses of sediment samples, side-scan sono-
represent relict features of nearshore sand ridges graphs, and seismic profiles, collected from the
formed in high-energy environments when water sand ridges in the Yellow Sea and South Sea of
depths were shallower and tidal currents were Korea lead us to the following conclusions.
stronger than those of the present-day. The elon- (1) Morphologically, the sand ridge (Jangan
gated features, with a thickness of up to 13 m at Satoe) in the Yellow Sea contains various bedforms
the crests, indicate that the ridges were one of the such as sand waves and megaripples, whereas the
major depositional units. Hong (1991 ) reports the sand ridges in the South Sea are characterized by
existence of a submerged paleochannel system on a rounded, single form without bedforms on them.
the South Sea shelf, which was an extension of the (2) The sand ridges in the two study areas have
Seomjin River during low sea level. This paleo- been formed by tidal currents, but their present
river system provided abundant material for the environments are different. The sand ridge in the
development of sand ridges along the coast. Yellow Sea is in an accretional, active stage,
Presumably, tidal currents at that time was much whereas the sand ridges in the South Sea reflect a
stronger than at present and played an important moribund stage.
role in shaping and forming the ridges. A contin- (3) The sand ridges in the South Sea were
ued sea-level rise to its present position has resulted formed near the coast during a low sea level and
in a substantial reduction of tidal current strength. became moribund as the sea-level rise to its present
Consequently, the ridges remained on the shelf position resulted in a substantial reduction of the
and became moribund. tidal current strength.
Recent work (Rine et al., 1991) on the New
Jersey shelf, a storm-dominated eastern continental
shelf of the USA, describes that the sand ridges Acknowledgements
on the middle shelf are not relict features but were
formed in a middle shelf setting. They suggested This work was undertaken with the financial
that a majority of the sands originally deposited support by the Korean Science and Engineering
in the nearshore has been reworked and redepos- Foundation (Directed Research Fund, Grant
ited by mid-shelf processes. Available information No. 890629; 1989-1992). We thank W.H. Cho for
such as bathymetry, bottom features, and current providing unpublished Uniboom Data. The
data indicates that the sand ridges in the South reviewing of the manuscript by Drs. H.J. Knebel
Sea are relatively stable and do not respond and G.S. Chung is appreciated very much. Drs.
actively to the present-day sea condition. However, J.M. Rine, S.A. Kuehl, and one anonymous
the grain-size distribution pattern on the sand reviewer made many helpful suggestions and corn-
102 S.C. Park, S.D. Lee/Marine Geology 120 (1994) 89 103

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Kim, D.C. and Kang, H.J., 1991. Suspended sediment budget
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