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Delineation of tidal scour through marine geophysical techniques at Sloop Channel and Goose Creek bridges, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, New York

January 1, 2001

Inspection of the Goose Creek Bridge in southeastern Nassau County in April 1998 by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) indicated a separation of bridge piers from the road bed as a result of pier instability due to apparent seabed scouring by tidal currents. This prompted a cooperative study by the U.S. Geological Survey with the NYSDOT to delineate the extent of tidal scour at this bridge and at the Sloop Channel Bridge, about 0.5 mile to the south, through several marine- geophysical techniques. These techniques included use of a narrow-beam, 200-kilohertz, research-grade fathometer, a global positioning system accurate to within 3 feet, a 3.5 to 7-kilohertz seismic-reflection profiler, and an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP). The ADCP was used only at the Sloop Channel Bridge; the other techniques were used at both bridges.

Results indicate extensive tidal scour at both bridges. The fathometer data indicate two major scour holes nearly parallel to the Sloop Channel Bridge—one along the east side, and one along the west side (bridge is oriented north-south). The scour-hole depths are as much as 47 feet below sea level and average more than 40 feet below sea level; these scour holes also appear to have begun to connect beneath the bridge. The deepest scour is at the north end of the bridge beneath the westernmost piers. The east-west symmetry of scour at Sloop Channel Bridge suggests that flood and ebb tides produce extensive scour.

The thickness of sediment that has settled within scour holes could not be interpreted from fathometer data alone because fathometer frequencies cannot penetrate beneath the sea-floor surface. The lower frequencies used in seismic-reflection profiling can penetrate the sea floor and underlying sediments, and indicate the amount of infilling of scour holes, the extent of riprap under the bridge, and the assemblages of clay, sand, and silt beneath the sea floor. The seismic- reflection surveys detected 2 to 5 feet of sediment filling the scour holes at both bridges; this indicates that the fathometer surveys were undermeasuring the effective depth of bridge scour by 2 to 5 feet through their inability to penetrate the infilled sediment. Several clay layers with thicknesses of 3 to 5 feet were detected beneath the sea floor at both bridges. Most of the piers beneath Sloop Channel Bridge appear to be surrounded by riprap, but, in several areas the riprap appears to be slumping or sliding into adjacent scour holes. Similar slumping was indicated at the Goose Creek Bridge. Most of the sediment underlying the sea floor at both bridges is interpreted as a fine-grained, cross-bedded sand.

ADCP data from Sloop Channel indicate that the constricted flow beneath the bridge increases the horizontal current velocities from 2 to 6 feet per second. Total measured discharge beneath Sloop Channel Bridge was 41,800 cubic feet per second at flood tide and 27,600 cubic feet per second at ebb tide.

Publication Year 2001
Title Delineation of tidal scour through marine geophysical techniques at Sloop Channel and Goose Creek bridges, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, New York
DOI 10.3133/wri004033
Authors Frederick Stumm, Anthony Chu, Richard J. Reynolds
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 2000-4033
Index ID wri004033
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center