Deposition of Hudson River sediment into New York Harbor interferes with navigation lanes and requires continuous dredging. Sediment dynamics at the Hudson estuary turbidity maximum (ETM) have received considerable study, but delivery of sediment to the ETM through the freshwater reach of the estuary has received relatively little attention and few direct measurements. An acoustic Doppler current profiler was positioned at the approximate limit of continuous freshwater to develop a 4-year time series of water velocity, discharge, suspended sediment concentration, and suspended sediment discharge. This data set was compared with suspended sediment discharge data collected during the same period at two sites just above the Hudson head-of-tide (the Federal Dam at Troy) that together represent the single largest source of sediment entering the estuary. The mean annual suspended sediment-discharge from the freshwater reach of the estuary was 737,000 metric tons. Unexpectedly, the total suspended sediment discharge at the study site in November and December slightly exceeded that observed during March and April, the months during which rain and snowmelt typically result in the largest sediment discharge to the estuary. Suspended sediment discharge at the study site exceeded that from the Federal Dam, even though the intervening reach appears to store significant amounts of sediment, suggesting that 30-40% of sediment discharge observed at the study site is derived from tributaries to the estuary between the Federal Dam and study site. A simple model of sediment entering and passing through the freshwater reach on a timescale of weeks appears reasonable during normal hydrologic conditions in adjoining watersheds; however, this simple model may dramatically overestimate sediment delivery during extreme tributary high flows, especially those at the end of, or after, the "flushing season" (October through April). Previous estimates of annual or seasonal sediment delivery from tributaries and the Federal Dam to the ETM and harbor may be high for those years with extreme tributary high-flow events. ?? 2008 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation.
Additional publication details
Suspended sediment transport in the freshwater reach of the Hudson river estuary in eastern New York