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Monitoring and modeling dispersal of a submerged nearshore berm at the mouth of the Columbia River, USA

February 3, 2023

A submerged, low-relief nearshore berm was constructed in the Pacific Ocean near the mouth of the Columbia River, USA, using 216,000 m3 of sediment dredged from the adjacent navigation channel. The material dredged from the navigation channel was placed on the northern flank of the ebb-tidal delta in water depths between 12 and 15 m and created a distinct feature that could be tracked over time. Field measurements and numerical modeling were used to evaluate the transport pathways, time scales, and physical processes responsible for dispersal of the berm and evaluate the suitability of the location for operational placement of dredged material to enhance the sediment supply to eroding beaches onshore of the placement site. Repeated multibeam bathymetric surveys characterized the initial berm morphology and dispersion of the berm between September 22, 2020, and March 10, 2021. During this time, the volume of sediment within the berm decreased by about 40%to 127,000 m3, the maximum height decreased by almost 60%, and the center of the deposit shifted onshore over 200 m. Observations of berm morphology were compared with predictions from a three-dimensional hydrodynamic and sediment transport model application to refine poorly constrained model input parameters including sediment transport coefficients, bed schematization, and grain size. The calibrated sediment transport model was used to predict the amount, timing, and direction of transport outside of the observed survey area. Model simulations predicted that tidal currents were weak in the vicinity of the berm and wave processes including enhanced bottom stresses and asymmetric bottom orbital velocities resulted in dominant onshore movement of sediment from the berm toward the coastline. Roughly 50% of the berm volume was predicted to disperse away from the initial placement site during the 169 day hindcast. Between 9 and 17% of the initial volume of the berm was predicted to accumulate along the shoreface of a shoreline reach experiencing chronic erosion directly onshore of the placement site. Scenarios exploring alternate placement locations suggested that the berm was relatively effective in enhancing the sediment supply along the eroding coastline north of the inlet. The transferable monitoring and modeling framework developed in this study can be used to inform implementation of strategic nearshore placements and regional sediment management in complex, high-energy coastal environments elsewhere.

Publication Year 2023
Title Monitoring and modeling dispersal of a submerged nearshore berm at the mouth of the Columbia River, USA
DOI 10.1016/j.coastaleng.2023.104285
Authors Andrew W. Stevens, Hans R. Moritz, Edwin PL Elias, Guy R. Gelfenbaum, Peter R Ruggiero, Stuart G Pearson, James M McMillan, George M Kaminsky
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Coastal Engineering
Index ID 70240321
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center