U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1329
The Nisqually River Delta is located about 25 km south of the Tacoma Narrows in the southern reach of Puget Sound. Delta evolution is controlled by sedimentation from the Nisqually River and erosion by strong tidal currents that may reach 0.95 m/s in the Nisqually Reach. The Nisqually River flows 116 km from the Cascade Range, including the slopes of Mount Rainier, through glacially carved valleys to Puget Sound. Extensive tidal flats on the delta consist of late-Holocene silty and sandy strata from normal river streamflow and seasonal floods and possibly from distal sediment-rich debris flows associated with volcanic and seismic events.
In the early 1900s, dikes and levees were constructed around Nisqually Delta salt marshes, and the reclaimed land was used for agriculture and pasture. In 1974, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge on the reclaimed land to protect migratory birds; its creation has prevented further human alteration of the Delta and estuary. In October 2009, original dikes and levees were removed to restore tidal exchange to almost 3 km2 of man-made freshwater marsh on the Nisqually Delta.
Contact Information, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Pacific Science Center
400 Natural Bridges Drive
Santa Cruz, California 95060
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Takesue, R.K., and Swarzenski, P.W., 2011, More than 100 years of background-level sedimentary metals, Nisqually River Delta, South Puget Sound, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1329, 13 p.
Study Goals and Approach