Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Istvan G. Lauko

Committee Members

Gabriella A. Pinter, Bruce Wade


Bacteria, Beach, Finite Volume Method, Mathematical Model, Porous Medium, Richards Equation


Bacterial growth in sand is of concern in regard to the health of beaches. A mathematical model is presented that represents the movement of moisture and the growth of bacteria through a beach. Simulations were run by numerically solving Richards Equation using a Finite Volume Method in order to track moisture movement. A model of moisture-dependent bacterial growth was then implemented. These simulations show that elevated bacteria counts following rain events do not necessarily result from bacteria in the body of water, but can also be sourced from the sand. Additionally, four different moisture-dependent bacterial growth models are compared to computationally investigate the relationship between relative moisture level in the sand and bacterial growth.