Sediment flux in marsh tidal creeks is commonly used to gage sediment supply to marshes. We conducted a field investigation of temporal variability in sediment flux in tidal creeks in the accreting tidal marsh at China Camp State Park adjacent to northern San Francisco Bay. Suspended-sediment concentration (SSC), velocity, and depth were measured near the mouths of two tidal creeks during three six-to-ten-week deployments: two in winter and one in summer. Currents, wave properties and SSC were measured in the adjacent shallows. All deployments spanned the largest spring tides of the season. Results show that tidally-averaged suspended-sediment flux (SSF) in the tidal creeks decreased with increasing tidal energy, and SSF was negative (bayward) for tidal cycles with maximum water surface elevation above the marsh plain. Export during the largest spring tides dominated the cumulative SSF measured during the deployments. During ebb tides following the highest tides, velocities exceeded 1 m/s in the narrow tidal creeks, resulting in negative tidally-averaged water flux, and mobilizing sediment from the creek banks or bed. Storm surge also produced negative SSF. Tidally-averaged SSF was positive in wavey conditions with moderate tides. Spring-tide sediment export was about 50% less at a station 130 m further up the tidal creek than at the creek mouth. The negative tidally-averaged water flux near the creek mouth during spring tides indicates that in the lower marsh, some of the water flooding directly across the bay--marsh interface drains through the tidal creeks, and suggests that this interface may be a pathway for sediment supply to the lower marsh as well.
Additional publication details
The influence of neap-spring tidal variation and wave energy on sediment flux in salt marsh tidal creeks