Sediment dynamics drive contaminant dynamics

Pulse of the Estuary 2003
By: , and 



Many contaminants of greatest concern in San Francisco Bay, including mercury and PCBs, are primarily associated with sediment particles rather than dissolved in water. Therefore, the movement and fate of sediment determines the movement and fate of many contaminants in the Bay. Because of this close association, the RMP monitors and seeks to understand the quantity and movement of sediment suspended in the water. Through study of suspended sediment dynamics, the RMP is developing a better understanding of trends and patterns of contaminants and how the Bay will respond to management actions during the next several decades. Recent RMP efforts to develop predictive models of contaminant fate in the Bay have highlighted the fundamental importance of understanding sediment dynamics.

Sediment movement in the Bay is determined by tides, wind, and freshwater inflow. Tides flood and ebb twice a day, wind typically is strongest in the afternoon, and freshwater inflow is greatest during the winter rainy season (see sidebar on next page). To characterize these fluctuations, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began continuous monitoring of suspended sediment concentration in 1991. Continuous suspended sediment concentration monitoring stations were established in each major region of San Francisco Bay (Figure 1), establishing a continuous monitoring network. The sensors at each station measure the amount of material in the water every 15 minutes. Results are available on the internet at . In addition to the network, sensors have been deployed at as many as 14 additional sites in the Bay for periods of several months as part of focused studies of sediment transport in Bay locales of special interest.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title Sediment dynamics drive contaminant dynamics
Series title Pulse of the Estuary
Series number 2003
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher San Francisco Estuary Institute
Contributing office(s) San Francisco Bay-Delta, Pacific Regional Director's Office
Description 6 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype Other Report
Larger Work Title 2003 Pulse of the estuary: Monitoring & managing contamination in the San Francisco Estuary
First page 21
Last page 26
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial San Francisco Bay
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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