Tidal bore

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A bore in Morecambe Bay, in the United Kingdom Tidal Bore - geograph.org.uk - 324581.jpg
A bore in Morecambe Bay, in the United Kingdom
Video of the Arnside Bore, in the United Kingdom
The tidal bore in Upper Cook Inlet, in Alaska Turnagain-bore.jpg
The tidal bore in Upper Cook Inlet, in Alaska

A tidal bore, [1] often simply given as bore in context, is a tidal phenomenon in which the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave (or waves) of water that travels up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the river or bay's current.



Bores occur in relatively few locations worldwide, usually in areas with a large tidal range (typically more than 6 meters (20 ft) between high and low tide) and where incoming tides are funneled into a shallow, narrowing river or lake via a broad bay. [2] The funnel-like shape not only increases the tidal range, but it can also decrease the duration of the flood tide, down to a point where the flood appears as a sudden increase in the water level. A tidal bore takes place during the flood tide and never during the ebb tide.

Undular bore and whelps near the mouth of Araguari River in northeastern Brazil. The view is oblique towards the mouth from airplane at approximately 100 ft (30 m) altitude. Undular bore Araguari River-Brazil-USGS-bws00026.jpg
Undular bore and whelps near the mouth of Araguari River in northeastern Brazil. The view is oblique towards the mouth from airplane at approximately 100 ft (30 m) altitude.

A tidal bore may take on various forms, ranging from a single breaking wavefront with a roller – somewhat like a hydraulic jump [4] [5] – to undular bores, comprising a smooth wavefront followed by a train of secondary waves known as whelps. [6] Large bores can be particularly unsafe for shipping but also present opportunities for river surfing. [6]

Two key features of a tidal bore are the intense turbulence and turbulent mixing generated during the bore propagation, as well as its rumbling noise. The visual observations of tidal bores highlight the turbulent nature of the surging waters. The tidal bore induces a strong turbulent mixing in the estuarine zone, and the effects may be felt along considerable distances. The velocity observations indicate a rapid deceleration of the flow associated with the passage of the bore as well as large velocity fluctuations. [7] [8] A tidal bore creates a powerful roar that combines the sounds caused by the turbulence in the bore front and whelps, entrained air bubbles in the bore roller, sediment erosion beneath the bore front and of the banks, scouring of shoals and bars, and impacts on obstacles. The bore rumble is heard far away because its low frequencies can travel over long distances. The low-frequency sound is a characteristic feature of the advancing roller in which the air bubbles entrapped in the large-scale eddies are acoustically active and play the dominant role in the rumble-sound generation. [9]


The word bore derives through Old English from the Old Norse word bára, meaning "wave" or "swell."


Tidal bores can be dangerous. Certain rivers such as the Seine in France, the Petitcodiac River in Canada, and the Colorado River in Mexico to name a few, have had a sinister reputation in association with tidal bores. In China, despite warning signs erected along the banks of the Qiantang River, a number of fatalities occur each year by people who take too much risk with the bore. [2] The tidal bores affect the shipping and navigation in the estuarine zone, for example, in Papua New Guinea (Fly and Bamu Rivers), Malaysia (Benak at Batang Lupar), and India (Hoogly bore).

On the other hand, tidal bore-affected estuaries are rich feeding zones and breeding grounds of several forms of wildlife. [2] The estuarine zones are the spawning and breeding grounds of several native fish species, while the aeration induced by the tidal bore contributes to the abundant growth of many species of fish and shrimps (for example in the Rokan River). The tidal bores also provide opportunity for recreational inland surfing.

Scientific studies

Scientific studies have been carried out at the River Dee [10] in Wales in the United Kingdom, the Garonne [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] and Sélune [16] in France, the Daly River [17] in Australia, and the Qiantang River estuary [18] in China. The force of the tidal bore flow often poses a challenge to scientific measurements, as evidenced by a number of field work incidents in the River Dee, [10] Rio Mearim, Daly River, [17] and Sélune River. [16]

Rivers and bays with tidal bores

Rivers and bays that have been known to exhibit bores include those listed below. [2] [19]




United Kingdom

The Trent Aegir seen from West Stockwith, Nottinghamshire, 20 September 2005 Trent Aegir 2.JPG
The Trent Aegir seen from West Stockwith, Nottinghamshire, 20 September 2005
The Trent Aegir at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, 20 September 2005 Trent Aegir 3.JPG
The Trent Aegir at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, 20 September 2005
Tidal bore on the River Ribble River Ribble bore.jpg
Tidal bore on the River Ribble



The phenomenon is generally named un mascaret in French. [21] but some other local names are preferred. [19]

Papua New Guinea

North America

United States

Tidal bore on the Petitcodiac River Tidal bore.jpg
Tidal bore on the Petitcodiac River
  • The Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, Alaska. Up to 2 meters (7 ft) and 20 km/h (12 mph).
  • Historically the Colorado River had a tidal bore up to 6 feet, that extended 47 miles up river.
  • The Savannah River up to 10 miles (16 km) inland.
  • Small tidal bores, only a few inches in height, have been observed advancing up tidal bayous on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.


Most rivers draining into the upper Bay of Fundy between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have tidal bores. Notable ones include:

  • The Petitcodiac River formerly had the highest bore in North America at over 2 meters (6.6 ft) in height, but causeway construction between Moncton and Riverview in the 1960s led to subsequent extensive sedimentation which reduced the bore to little more than a ripple. After considerable political controversy, the causeway gates were opened on April 14, 2010, as part of the Petitcodiac River Restoration Project and the tidal bore began to grow again. [23] The restoration of the bore has been sufficient that in July 2013, professional surfers rode a one-meter-high wave 29 km up the Petitcodiac River from Belliveau Village to Moncton to establish a new North American record for continuous surfing.
  • The Shubenacadie River, also off the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. When the tidal bore approaches, completely drained riverbeds are filled. It has claimed the lives of several tourists who were in the riverbeds when the bore came in.[ citation needed ] Tour boat operators offer rafting excursions in the summer.
  • The bore is fastest and highest on some of the smaller rivers that connect to the bay including the River Hebert and Maccan River on the Cumberland Basin, the St. Croix and Kennetcook rivers in the Minas Basin, and the Salmon River in Truro. [24]


Historically, there was a tidal bore on the Gulf of California in Mexico at the mouth of the Colorado River. It formed in the estuary about Montague Island and propagated upstream. Once very strong, later diversions of the river for irrigation have weakened the flow of the river to the point the tidal bore has nearly disappeared.

South America

Lakes with tidal bores

Lakes with an ocean inlet can also exhibit tidal bores.[ citation needed ]

North America

See also

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  1. Sometimes also known as an aegir, eagre, or eygre in the context of specific instances in Britain.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Chanson, H. (2011). Tidal Bores, Aegir, Eagre, Mascaret, Pororoca. Theory and Observations. World Scientific, Singapore. ISBN   978-981-4335-41-6.
  3. Figure 5 in: Susan Bartsch-Winkler; David K. Lynch (1988), Catalog of worldwide tidal bore occurrences and characteristics (Circular 1022), U. S. Geological Survey
  4. Chanson, H. (2012). "Momentum considerations in hydraulic jumps and bores". Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering. ASCE. 138 (4): 382–85. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)IR.1943-4774.0000409. ISSN   0372-0187.
  5. Chanson, H. (2009). "Current Knowledge In Hydraulic Jumps And Related Phenomena. A Survey of Experimental Results". European Journal of Mechanics B. 28 (2): 191–210. Bibcode:2009EJMF...28..191C. doi:10.1016/j.euromechflu.2008.06.004. ISSN   0997-7546.
  6. 1 2 3 Chanson, H. (2009). Environmental, Ecological and Cultural Impacts of Tidal Bores, Benaks, Bonos and Burros. Proc. International Workshop on Environmental Hydraulics IWEH09, Theoretical, Experimental and Computational Solutions, Valencia, Spain, 29–30 October Editor P.A. Lopez-Jimenez et al., Invited keynote lecture, 20 pp. (CD-ROM).
  7. Koch, C. and Chanson, H. (2008). "Turbulent Mixing beneath an Undular Bore Front". Journal of Coastal Research. 24 (4): 999–1007. doi:10.2112/06-0688.1.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. Koch, C. and Chanson, H. (2009). "Turbulence Measurements in Positive Surges and Bores". Journal of Hydraulic Research. 47 (1): 29–40. doi:10.3826/jhr.2009.2954.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. Chanson, H. (2009). "The Rumble Sound Generated by a Tidal Bore Event in the Baie du Mont Saint Michel". Journal of the Acoustical Society of America . 125 (6): 3561–68. Bibcode:2009ASAJ..125.3561C. doi:10.1121/1.3124781. PMID   19507938.
  10. 1 2 Simpson, J.H., Fisher, N.R., and Wiles, P. (2004). "Reynolds Stress and TKE Production in an Estuary with a Tidal Bore". Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science . 60 (4): 619–27. Bibcode:2004ECSS...60..619S. doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2004.03.006. during this […] deployment, the [ADCP] instrument was repeatedly buried in sediment after the 1st tidal cycle and had to be dug out of the sediment, with considerable difficulty, at the time of recovery.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. Chanson, H., Lubin, P., Simon, B., and Reungoat, D. (2010). Turbulence and Sediment Processes in the Tidal Bore of the Garonne River: First Observations. Hydraulic Model Report No. CH79/10, School of Civil Engineering, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 97 pp. ISBN   978-1-74272-010-4.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. Simon, B., Lubin, P., Reungoat, D., Chanson, H. (2011). Turbulence Measurements in the Garonne River Tidal Bore: First Observations. Proc. 34th IAHR World Congress, Brisbane, Australia, 26 June–1 July, Engineers Australia Publication, Eric Valentine, Colin Apelt, James Ball, Hubert Chanson, Ron Cox, Rob Ettema, George Kuczera, Martin Lambert, Bruce Melville and Jane Sargison Editors, pp. 1141–48. ISBN   978-0-85825-868-6.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. Chanson, H., Reungoat, D., Simon, B., Lubin, P. (2012). "High-Frequency Turbulence and Suspended Sediment Concentration Measurements in the Garonne River Tidal Bore". Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 95 (2–3): 298–306. Bibcode:2011ECSS...95..298C. CiteSeerX . doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2011.09.012. ISSN   0272-7714.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. Reungoat, D., Chanson, H., Caplain, C. (2014). "Sediment Processes and Flow Reversal in the Undular Tidal Bore of the Garonne River (France)". Environmental Fluid Mechanics . 14 (3): 591–616. doi:10.1007/s10652-013-9319-y. ISSN   1567-7419.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. Reungoat, D., Chanson, H., Keevil, C. (2014). Turbulence, Sedimentary Processes and Tidal Bore Collision in the Arcins Channel, Garonne River (October 2013). Hydraulic Model Report No. CH94/14, School of Civil Engineering, the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 145 Pp. ISBN   9781742721033.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. 1 2 Mouazé, D., Chanson, H., and Simon, B. (2010). Field Measurements in the Tidal Bore of the Sélune River in the Bay of Mont Saint Michel (September 2010). Hydraulic Model Report No. CH81/10, School of Civil Engineering, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 72 pp. ISBN   978-1-74272-021-0. the field study experienced a number of problems and failures. About 40 s after the passage of the bore, the metallic frame started to move. The ADV support failed completely 10 minutes after the tidal bore.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  17. 1 2 Wolanski, E., Williams, D., Spagnol, S., and Chanson, H. (2004). "Undular Tidal Bore Dynamics in the Daly Estuary, Northern Australia". Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 60 (4): 629–36. Bibcode:2004ECSS...60..629W. doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2004.03.001. About 20 min after the passage of the bore the two aluminium frames at site C were toppled. […] A 3-min-duration patch of macroturbulence was observed. […] This unsteady motion was sufficiently energetic to topple moorings that had survived much higher, quasi-steady currents of 1.8 m/s.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. 1 2 Li, Ying; Pan, Dong-Zi; Chanson, Hubert; Pan, Cun-Hong (July 2019). "Real-time characteristics of tidal bore propagation in the Qiantang River Estuary, China, recorded by marine radar". Continental Shelf Research. Elsevier. 180: 48–58. doi:10.1016/j.csr.2019.04.012. The Qiantang River tidal bore was recorded at two different geographical locations. Characteristic flow patterns were derived and analysed, including temporal changes over a relatively large-scale area. The experimental results showed that the radar-derived celerity and calculated height of the tidal bore were consistent with visual observations in this estuarine zone.
  19. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Chanson, H. (2008). Photographic Observations of Tidal Bores (Mascarets) in France. Hydraulic Model Report No. CH71/08, Univ. of Queensland, Australia, 104 pp. ISBN   978-1-86499-930-3.
  20. Ryan Novitra (February 3, 2017). "Riau to Introduce Bono Wave to International Tourism".
  21. (in French) definition of mascaret
  22. p. 159, Barrie R. Bolton. 2009. The Fly River, Papua New Guinea: Environmental Studies in an Impacted Tropical River System. Elsevier Science. ISBN   978-0444529640.
  23. Petitcodiac River changing faster than expected
  24. Natural History of Nova Scotia Vol. I, Chap. T "Ocean Currents", p. 109
  25. (in English) "Pororoca: surfing the Amazon" indicates that "The record that we could find for surfing the longest distance on the Pororoca was set by Picuruta Salazar, a Brazilian surfer who, in 2003, managed to ride the wave for 37 minutes and travel 12.5 kilometers (7.8 mi)."