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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1347

The Performance of Nearshore Dredge Disposal at Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California, 2005-2007

By Patrick L. Barnard, Li H. Erikson, Jeff E. Hansen, and Edwin Elias


Executive Summary

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Ocean Beach, California, contains an erosion hot spot in the shadow of the San Francisco ebb tidal delta that threatens valuable public infrastructure as well as the safe recreational use of the beach. In an effort to reduce the erosion at this location a new plan for the management of sediment dredged annually from the main shipping channel at the mouth of San Francisco Bay was implemented in May 2005 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District (USACE). The USACE designated a temporary nearshore dredge disposal site for the annual disposal of about 230,000 m3 (300,000 yd3) of sand about 750 m offshore and slightly south of the erosion hot spot, in depths between approximately 9 and 14 m. The site has now been used three times for a total sediment disposal of about 690,000 m3 (about 900,000 yds3). The disposal site was chosen because it is in a location where strong tidal currents and open-ocean waves can potentially feed sediment toward the littoral zone in the reach of the beach that is experiencing critical erosion, as well as prevent further scour on an exposed outfall pipe. The onshore migration of sediment from the target disposal location might feed the primary longshore bar or the nearshore zone, and provide a buffer to erosion that peaks during winter months when large waves impact the region. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has been monitoring and modeling the bathymetric evolution of the test dredge disposal site and the adjacent coastal region since inception in May 2005. This paper reports on the first 2.5 years of this monitoring program effort (May 2005 to December 2007) and assesses the short-term coastal response. Here are the key findings of this report:

  • Approximately half of the sediment that has been placed in the nearshore dredge-disposal site during the 2.5 years of this study remains within the dredge focus area.
  • In the winter of 2006-7, large waves transported the dredge-mound material onshore.
  • High rates of seasonal cross-shore sediment transport mask any potential profile change in the Coastal Profiling System data due to dredge placement.
  • Pockets of accretion have been recorded by topographic surveying adjacent to the dredge site, but it is unclear if the accretion is linked to the nourishment.
  • Cross-shore profile modeling suggests that dredge material must be placed in water depths no greater than 5 m to drive a positive shoreline response.
  • Area modeling demonstrates that the new dredge site increases wave dissipation and modifies local sediment-transport patterns, although the effect on the nearshore morphology is largely negligible.
  • Any increase in beach width or wave energy-dissipation related to the nourishment is likely to be realized only in the vicinity directly onshore of the nourishment site, which is several hundred meters south of the area of critical erosion.
  • Larger waves from the northwest and smaller waves from the west or southwest contribute most to the sediment transport from the dredge mound onshore.

Version 1.0

Posted March 16, 2009

For additional information contact:
Patrick Barnard

Western Coastal & Marine Geology

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Suggested citation:

Barnard, P.L., Erikson, L.H., Hansen, J.E., and Elias, Edwin, 2009, The Performance of nearshore dredge disposal at Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California, 2005-2007: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1347, 93 p. [].


Executive Summary





Results and Discussion



References Cited


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