Suspended sediment concentration (SSC) data from San Pablo Bay, California, were analyzed to compare the basin-scale effect of dredging and disposal of dredged material (dredging operations) and natural estuarine processes. The analysis used twelve 3-wk to 5-wk periods of mid-depth and near-bottom SSC data collected at Point San Pablo every 15 min from 1993-1998. Point San Pablo is within a tidal excursion of a dredged-material disposal site. The SSC data were compared to dredging volume, Julian day, and hydrodynamic and meteorological variables that could affect SSC. Kendall's ??, Spearman's ??, and weighted (by the fraction of valid data in each period) Spearman's ??w correlation coefficients of the variables indicated which variables were significantly correlated with SSC. Wind-wave resuspension had the greatest effect on SSC. Median water-surface elevation was the primary factor affecting mid-depth SSC. Greater depths inhibit wind-wave resuspension of bottom sediment and indicate greater influence of less turbid water from down estuary. Seasonal variability in the supply of erodible sediment is the primary factor affecting near-bottom SSC. Natural physical processes in San Pablo Bay are more areally extensive, of equal or longer duration, and as frequent as dredging operations (when occurring), and they affect SSC at the tidal time scale. Natural processes control SSC at Point San Pablo even when dredging operations are occurring.
Additional publication details
Comparison of the basin-scale effect of dredging operations and natural estuarine processes on suspended sediment concentration