Waves and tides responsible for the intermittent closure of the entrance of a small, sheltered tidal wetland at San Francisco, CA

Continental Shelf Research
By: , and 



Crissy Field Marsh (CFM; http://www.nps.gov/prsf/planyourvisit/crissy-field-marsh-and-beach.htm) is a small, restored tidal wetland located in the entrance to San Francisco Bay just east of the Golden Gate. The marsh is small but otherwise fairly typical of many such restored wetlands worldwide. The marsh is hydraulically connected to the bay and the adjacent Pacific Ocean by a narrow sandy channel. The channel often migrates and sometimes closes completely, which effectively blocks the tidal connection to the ocean and disrupts the hydraulics and ecology of the marsh. Field measurements of waves and tides have been examined in order to evaluate the conditions responsible for the intermittent closure of the marsh entrance. The most important factor found to bring about the entrance channel closure is the occurrence of large ocean waves. However, there were also a few closure events during times with relatively small offshore waves. Examination of the deep-water directional wave spectra during these times indicates the presence of a small secondary peak corresponding to long period swell from the southern hemisphere, indicating that CFM and San Francisco Bay in general may be more susceptible to long period ocean swell emanating from the south or southwest than the more common ocean waves coming from the northwest. The tidal records during closure events show no strong relationship between closures and tides, other than that closures tend to occur during multi-day periods with successively increasing high tides. It can be inferred from these findings that the most important process to the intermittent closure of the entrance to CFM is littoral sediment transport driven by the influence of ocean swell waves breaking along the CFM shoreline at oblique angles. During periods of large, oblique waves the littoral transport of sand likely overwhelms the scour potential of the tidal flow in the entrance channel.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Waves and tides responsible for the intermittent closure of the entrance of a small, sheltered tidal wetland at San Francisco, CA
Series title Continental Shelf Research
DOI 10.1016/j.csr.2011.07.004
Volume 31
Issue 16
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) San Francisco Bay-Delta
Description 6 p.
First page 1682
Last page 1687
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial San Francisco
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