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Bathymetry, topography, and sediment grain-size data from the Elwha River delta, Washington, July 2015

December 16, 2016

Two dams on the Elwha River, Washington State, USA trapped over 20 million cubic meters of sediment, reducing downstream sediment fluxes and contributing to erosion of the river's coastal delta. The removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams between 2011 and 2014 induced massive increases in river sediment supply and provided an unprecedented opportunity to examine the response of a delta system to changes in sediment supply. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) developed an integrated research program aimed at understanding the ecosystem responses following dam removal. The research program included repeated surveys of beach topography, nearshore bathymetry, and surface sediment grain size to quantify changes in delta morphology and texture following the dam removals. For more information on the USGS role in the Elwha River Restoration Project, please visit http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/elwha/.

This USGS data release presents data collected during surveys of nearshore bathymetry, beach topography and surface sediment grain size from the Elwha River delta, Washington. The majority of survey operations were conducted between July 29 and July 31, 2015 (USGS Field Activity Number 2015-648-FA) by a team of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC), Washington State Department of Ecology (WA DOE), Washington Sea Grant, and National Park Service. Grain-size data from sediment samples collected during USGS Field Activity 2015-652-FA are also included in this dataset.

Nearshore bathymetry data were collected using two personal watercraft (PWCs), each equipped with single-beam echosounders and survey-grade global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). Topography data were collected on foot with GNSS mounted on backpacks. Positions of the survey platforms were referenced to a GNSS base station placed on a nearby benchmark with known horizontal and vertical coordinates. Depths from the echosounders were computed using sound velocity profiles measured with a conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) sensor during the survey. A total of 176 km of nearshore bathymetric survey lines and 176 km of topographic survey lines were collected during the 3 days of survey operations. Environmental conditions were favorable resulting in excellent coverage of the beach and nearshore region. Bed sediment was sampled using a small ponar, or 'grab', sampler on July 28, 2015 from the R/V Frontier at a total of 70 locations in water depths between about 1 and 17 m around the delta. An additional 17 sediment samples were collected between July 22 and August 23, 2015 by SCUBA divers. Forty-eight sediment samples were collected at low tide at intertidal locations on the delta.

Digital files containing the nearshore bathymetry data, beach topography data, derived DEMs, and grain-size data from this survey are available for download from the child item pages.