Western Coastal and Marine Geology

U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 2007-1011
Version 1.0

Circulation and Physical Processes within the San Gabriel River Estuary During Summer 2005

By Kurt J. Rosenberger, Jingping Xu, Eric D. Stein, Marlene A. Noble, and Anne L. Gartner


The Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) is developing a hydrodynamic model of the SGR estuary, which is part of the comprehensive water-quality model of the SGR estuary and watershed investigated by SCCWRP and other local agencies. The hydrodynamic model will help understanding of 1) the exchange processes between the estuary and coastal ocean; 2) the circulation patterns in the estuary; 3) upstream natural runoff and the cooling discharge from PGS.

Like all models, the SGR hydrodynamic model is only useful after it is fully calibrated and validated. In May 2005, SCCWRP requested the assistance of the U.S. geological Survey (USGS) Coastal and Marine Geology team (CMG) in collecting data on the hydrodynamic conditions in the estuary during the summer dry season. The summer was chosen for field data collection as this was assumed to be the season with the greatest potential for chronic degraded water quality due to low river flow and high thermal stratification within the estuary (due to both higher average air temperature and PGS output). Water quality can be degraded in winter as well, when higher river discharge events bring large volumes of water from the Los Angeles basin into the estuary. The objectives of this project were to 1) collect hydrodynamic data along the SGR estuary; 2) study exchange processes within the estuary through analysis of the hydrodynamic data; and 3) provide field data for model calibration and validation. As the data only exist for the summer season, the results herein only apply to summer conditions.

Download this report as a 48-page PDF file (of2007-1011.pdf; 8.7 MB)

Download this report's Appendices as a 66-page PDF file (of2007-1011Appendices.pdf; 344 KB)

For questions about the content of this report, contact Kurt Rosenberger or Jingping Xu

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