Western Coastal and Marine Geology

U.S. Geological Survey
Data Series 289
Version 1.0

Sedimentary Properties of Shallow Marine Cores Collected in June and September 2006, Hanalei Bay, Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i

By Amy E. Draut, Michael H. Bothner, Richard L. Reynolds, Olivia C. Buchan, Susan A. Cochran, Michael A. Casso, Sandra M. Baldwin, Harland Goldstein, Jiang Xiao, Michael E. Field, and Joshua B. Logan


satellite image looking down on the bay

Sedimentary facies, short-lived isotopes 7Be, 137Cs, and 210Pb, and magnetic properties of sediment cores in Hanalei Bay, Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i, were used to assess sediment sources and patterns of deposition associated with seasonal flooding of the Hanalei River. Sediment cores were collected from the seafloor in June and September of 2006 to supplement similar data collected during the summer of 2005. The youngest and thickest terrigenous sediment was observed on the east side of the bay: near the Hanalei River mouth and in a bathymetric depression, known locally as the Black Hole, that acts as a temporary sediment sink. Deposits from floods that occurred between February and April 2006 left flood deposits in the eastern bay that, by June of 2006, were on the order of 10 cm thick. A flood occurred on August 7, 2006, that was smaller than floods that occurred the previous winter but was a substantial discharge event for the summer season. Deposits from the winter 2006 floods continued to dominate the sedimentary record in the eastern bay through early fall, even after the addition of newer sediment during the August 7 flood; this is consistent with the much higher sediment input of the winter floods compared with the August 7 flood. Broad variations in magnetic grain size and relative magnetite-hematite abundance in several sediment cores indicate many sources of upland terrigenous sediment. As a group, recent flood deposits show much less variation in these properties compared with older deposits, implying either that the 2006 winter–spring flood sediment originated from one or more distinct upland settings, or that substantial mixing of sediment from multiple sources occurred during transport.

Sediment is most readily remobilized and advected out of the bay during winter, when oceanic conditions are energetic. In summer, wave and current measurements made concurrently with this study showed weak currents and little wave energy, indicating that sediment delivered during summer floods most likely remains in the bay until winter storms can remove it. Increased turbidity and sedimentation on corals resulting from floods of the Hanalei River could affect the sustainability of coral reefs and their many associated species. This possibility is of particular concern during summer months when wave energy is low and sediment is not readily remobilized and transported out of the bay. The timing (seasonality) and magnitude of sediment input to the coastal ocean relative to seasonal variations in wave and current energy could have significant ecological consequences for coral-reef communities in the Hawaiian Islands.

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For questions about the content of this report, contact Amy Draut

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