The origin of neap-spring tidal cycles

Marine Geology



The origin of oceanic tides is a basic concept taught in most introductory college-level sedimentology/geology, oceanography, and astronomy courses. Tides are typically explained in the context of the equilibrium tidal theory model. Yet this model does not take into account real tides in many parts of the world. Not only does the equilibrium tidal model fail to explicate amphidromic circulation, it also does not explain diurnal tides in low latitude positions. It likewise fails to explain the existence of tide-dominated areas where neap-spring cycles are synchronized with the 27.32-day orbital cycle of the Moon (tropical month), rather than with the more familiar 29.52-day cycle of lunar phases (synodic month). Both types of neap-spring cycles can be recognized in the rock record. A complete explanation of the origin of tides should include a discussion of dynamic tidal theory. In the dynamic tidal model, tides resulting from the motions of the Moon in its orbit around the Earth and the Earth in its orbit around the Sun are modeled as products of the combined effects of a series of phantom satellites. The movement of each of these satellites, relative to the Earth's equator, creates its own tidal wave that moves around an amphidromic point. Each of these waves is referred to as a tidal constituent. The geometries of the ocean basins determine which of these constituents are amplified. Thus, the tide-raising potential for any locality on Earth can be conceptualized as the result of a series of tidal constituents specific to that region. A better understanding of tidal cycles opens up remarkable opportunities for research on tidal deposits with implications for, among other things, a more complete understanding of the tidal dynamics responsible for sediment transport and deposition, changes in Earth-Moon distance through time, and the possible influences tidal cycles may exert on organisms. ?? 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The origin of neap-spring tidal cycles
Series title Marine Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2006.10.001
Volume 235
Issue 1-4 SPEC. ISS.
Year Published 2006
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Marine Geology
First page 5
Last page 18
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