Measurements of suspended-solids concentration (SSC) were made at two depths at three sites in South San Francisco Bay (South Bay) to determine the factors that affect SSC. Twenty-eight segments of reliable and continuous SSC time series data longer than 14 days were collected from late 1991 or 1992 through September 1993. Spectral analysis and singular spectrum analysis were used to relate these data segments to time series of several potential forcing factors, including diurnal and semidiurnal tides, the spring-neap tidal cycle, wind shear, freshwater runoff, and longitudinal density differences. SSC is greatest during summer when a landward wind shear is applied to South Bay by the afternoon sea breeze. About one half the variance of SSC is caused by the spring-neap cycle, and SSC lags the spring-neap cycle by about 2 days. Relatively short duration of slack water limits the duration of deposition of suspended solids and consolidation of newly deposited bed sediment during the tidal cycle, so suspended solids accumulate in the water column as a spring tide is approached and slowly deposit as a neap tide is approached. Perturbations in SSC caused by wind and local runoff from winter storms during the study period were usually much smaller than SSC variations caused by the spring-neap cycle. Variations of SSC at the study sites at tidal timescales are tidally forced, and nonlinear physical processes are significant. Advective transport dominates during spring tides when water with higher SSC due to wind wave resuspension is advected to the main channel from shallow water, but during neap tides, advective transport is less significant. The findings of this and other studies indicate that the tidally averaged transport of suspended solids responds to seasonal variations of wind shear in South Bay.
Additional publication details
Factors affecting suspended-solids concentrations in South San Francisco Bay, California