Sediment resuspension and bed armoring during high bottom stress events on the northern California inner continental shelf: measurements and predictions

Continental Shelf Research

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Geoprobe bottom tripods were deployed during the winter of 1990-1991 on the northern California inner continental shelf as part of the STRESS field experiment. Transmissometer measurements of light beam attenuation were made at two levels and current velocity was measured at four levels in the bottom 1.2 m of water. Intervals of high measured bottom wave velocity were generally correlated with times of both high attenuation and high attenuation gradient in the bottom meter of the water column. Measured time series of light attenuation and attenuation gradient are compared to values computed using a modified version of the Smith [(1977) The sea, Vol. 6, Wiley-Interscience, New York, pp. 539-577] steady wave-current bottom-boundary-layer model. Size-dependent transmissometer calibrations, which show significantly enhanced attenuation with decreasing grain size, are used to convert calculated suspended sediment concentration to light attenuation. The finest fractions of the bed, which are the most easily suspended and attenuate the most light, dominate the computed attenuation signal although they comprise only about 5-7% of the bed sediment. The calculations indicate that adjusting the value of the coefficient ??0 in the expression for near-bed sediment concentration cannot in itself give both the correct magnitudes of light attenuation and attenuation gradient. To supply the volumes of fine sediment computed to be in suspension during peak events, even with values of ??0 as low as 5 ?? 10-5, requires suspension of particles from unreasonably large depths in the bed. A limit on the depth of sediment availability is proposed as a correction to suspended sediment calculations. With such a limit, reasonable attenuation values are computed with ??0 ??? 0.002. The effects of limiting availability and employing a higher ??0 are to reduce the volume of the finest sediment in suspension and to increase the suspended volumes of the coarser fractions. As a consequence, the average size and settling velocity of suspended sediment increases as bottom shear stress increases, with accompanying increases in near-bed concentration gradients. Higher concentration gradients produce larger stratification effects, particularly near the top of the wave boundary layer at times when wave shear velocities are high and current shear velocities are low. These are the conditions under which maximum attenuation gradients are observed. ?? 1994.

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Sediment resuspension and bed armoring during high bottom stress events on the northern California inner continental shelf: measurements and predictions
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Continental Shelf Research
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