Suspended-sediment trapping in the tidal reach of an estuarine tributary channel

Estuaries and Coasts
By:  and 



Evidence of decreasing sediment supply to estuaries and coastal oceans worldwide illustrates the need for accurate and updated estimates. In the San Francisco Estuary (Estuary), recent research suggests a decrease in supply from its largest tributaries, implying the increasing role of smaller, local tributaries in sediment supply to this estuary. Common techniques for estimating supply from tributaries are based on gages located above head of tide, which do not account for trapping processes within the tidal reach. We investigated the effect of a tidal reach on suspended-sediment discharge for Corte Madera Creek, a small tributary of the Estuary. Discharge of water (Q) and suspended-sediment (SSD) were observed for 3 years at two locations along the creek: upstream of tidal influence and at the mouth. Comparison of upstream and mouth gages showed nearly 50 % trapping of upstream SSD input within the tidal reach over this period. At the storm time scale, suspended-sediment trapping efficiency varied greatly (range −31 to 93 %); storms were classified as low- or high-yield based on upstream SSD. As upstream peak Q increased, high-yield storms exhibited significantly decreased trapping. Tidal conditions at the mouth—ebb duration and peak ebb velocity—during storms had a minor effect on sediment trapping, suggesting fluvial processes dominate. Comparison of characteristic fluvial and tidal discharges at the storm time scale demonstrated longitudinal differences in the regulating process for SSD. These results suggest that SSD from gages situated above head of tide overestimate sediment supply to the open waters beyond tributary mouths and thus trapping processes within the tidal reach should be considered.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Suspended-sediment trapping in the tidal reach of an estuarine tributary channel
Series title Estuaries and Coasts
DOI 10.1007/s12237-015-9944-4
Volume 38
Issue 6
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 15 p.
First page 2198
Last page 2212
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Corte Madera Creek, San Francisco Bay
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