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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012–1175

Prepared in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Ecology, Oregon State University, and the Portland District Army Corps of Engineers

Southwest Washington Littoral Drift Restoration: Beach and Nearshore Morphological Monitoring

By Andrew W. Stevens, Guy Gelfenbaum, Peter Ruggiero, and George M. Kaminsky

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A morphological monitoring program has documented the placement and initial dispersal of beach nourishment material (280,000 m3) placed between the Mouth of the Columbia River (MCR) North Jetty and North Head, at the southern end of the Long Beach Peninsula in southwestern Washington State. A total of 21 topographic surveys and 8 nearshore bathymetric surveys were performed between July 11, 2010, and November 4, 2011. During placement, southerly alongshore transport resulted in movement of nourishment material to the south towards the MCR North Jetty. Moderate wave conditions (significant wave height around 4 m) following the completion of the nourishment resulted in cross-shore sediment transport, with most of the nourishment material transported into the nearshore bars. The nourishment acted as a buffer to the more severe erosion, including dune overtopping and retreat, that was observed at the northern end of the study area throughout the winter. One year after placement of the nourishment, onshore transport and beach recovery were most pronounced within the permit area and to the south toward the MCR North Jetty. This suggests that there is some long-term benefit of the nourishment for reducing erosion rates locally, although the enhanced recovery also could be due to natural gradients in alongshore transport causing net movement of the sediment from north to south.

Measurements made during the morphological monitoring program documented the seasonal movement and decay of nearshore sand bars. Low-energy conditions in late summer resulted in onshore bar migration early in the monitoring program. Moderate wave conditions in the autumn resulted in offshore movement of the middle bar and continued onshore migration of the outer bar. High-energy wave conditions early in the winter resulted in strong cross-shore transport and creation of a 3-bar system along portions of the coast. More southerly wave events occurred later in the winter and early spring and coincided with the complete loss of the outer bar and net loss of sediment from the study area. These data suggest that bar decay may be an important mechanism for exporting sediment from Benson Beach north to the Long Beach Peninsula.

The measurements presented in this report represent one component of a broader monitoring program designed to track the movement of nourishment material on the beach and shoreface at this location, including continuous video monitoring (Argus), in situu measurements of hydrodynamics, and a physical tracer experiment. Field data from the monitoring program will be used to test numerical models of hydrodynamics and sediment transport and to improve the capability of numerical models to support regional sediment management.

Last modified November 8, 2012
First posted August 30, 2012



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Suggested citation:

Stevens, A.W., Gelfenbaum, G., Ruggiero, P., and Kaminsky, G.M, 2012, Southwest Washington littoral drift restoration—Beach and nearshore morphological monitoring: US Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012–1175, 67 p. (Available at








References Cited

Appendixex A and B

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