The mineralogical compositions of 119 samples collected from throughout the San Francisco Bay coastal system, including bayfloor and seafloor, area beaches, cliff outcrops, and major drainages, were determined using X-ray diffraction (XRD). Comparison of the mineral concentrations and application of statistical cluster analysis of XRD spectra allowed for the determination of provenances and transport pathways. The use of XRD mineral identifications provides semi-quantitative compositions needed for comparisons of beach and offshore sands with potential cliff and river sources, but the innovative cluster analysis of XRD diffraction spectra provides a unique visualization of how groups of samples within the San Francisco Bay coastal system are related so that sand-sized sediment transport pathways can be inferred.
The main vector for sediment transport as defined by the XRD analysis is from San Francisco Bay to the outer coast, where the sand then accumulates on the ebb tidal delta and also moves alongshore. This mineralogical link defines a critical pathway because large volumes of sediment have been removed from the Bay over the last century via channel dredging, aggregate mining, and borrow pit mining, with comparable volumes of erosion from the ebb tidal delta over the same period, in addition to high rates of shoreline retreat along the adjacent, open-coast beaches. Therefore, while previously only a temporal relationship was established, the transport pathway defined by mineralogical and geochemical tracers support the link between anthropogenic activities in the Bay and widespread erosion outside the Bay. The XRD results also establish the regional and local importance of sediment derived from cliff erosion, as well as both proximal and distal fluvial sources. This research is an important contribution to a broader provenance study aimed at identifying the driving forces for widespread geomorphic change in a heavily urbanized coastal-estuarine system.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Sand sources and transport pathways for the San Francisco Bay coastal system, based on X-ray diffraction mineralogy|
|Series title||Marine Geology|
|Contributing office(s)||San Francisco Bay-Delta, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center|
|Other Geospatial||San Francisco Bay|