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Monitoring sediment transport pathways from an artificial nearshore berm, South Padre Island, Texas, USA, August 2018 to November 2019: Implications for coastal management

October 3, 2023

During August 2018 – November 2019, the transport pathways of dredge material from a specially constructed nearshore feeder berm were investigated as part of a collaborative study by the City of South Padre Island, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers–Galveston District, U.S. Geological Survey, Partrac GeoMarine Inc., and Texas A&M University, into the efficacy of beneficial use dredge material (BUDM) as a method of replenishing the beach profile and shoreface at South Padre Island, Texas with sediment. Dual-signature (fluorescent and ferrimagnetic) tracer particles, designed to be hydraulically equivalent to the dredge material, were placed on the berm, and a sampling program was initiated to monitor the spatiotemporal movement of tracer particles under the influence of the prevailing hydrodynamic regime. Wave and current data were collected and were used together with available metocean data to identify the forcing mechanisms of sediment transport; improved understanding garnered from the consideration of multiple datasets can be used to inform future coastal management decisions.

Tracer analysis results indicated low magnitude, shoreward transport of dredge material from the berm and along shore transport in both northerly and southerly directions. Small amounts of tracer detected in beach face samples demonstrated connectivity between the constructed feeder berm and the shoreface. However, the generally low tracer concentration within beach face samples indicated low rates of sediment transport for berm sediments, and a low magnitude sediment transport pathway from the berm directly to the beach face, with possible storage of sediment in the nearshore bar system.

Given that the berm was at or beyond the closure depth and considering the relatively weak prevailing near bottom hydrodynamic conditions, the potential for sediment to be mobilized and transported during the study period was generally low. Periods of higher energy waves, driven by north-northwest winds, were identified as a key driver of sediment transport but due to the infrequent nature of these events the sediment transport regime across the area of interest was temporally limited. Longshore movement of sediment was both north and south, mainly dependent on prevailing wind directions and resulting longshore currents.

We discuss implications for coastal zone management and the use of feeder berms as an artificial beach nourishment mechanism to replenish sediments lost by coastal erosional processes. The insight into nearshore emplacement of material can be used by local governments and coastal managers to optimize the efficacy of berm emplacement and implement such schemes as a cost-effective nourishment option, or when onshore placement of material is not feasible.

Publication Year 2023
Title Monitoring sediment transport pathways from an artificial nearshore berm, South Padre Island, Texas, USA, August 2018 to November 2019: Implications for coastal management
DOI 10.1016/j.seares.2023.102446
Authors Darwin Ockerman, Douglas James Schnoebelen, Jack Poleykett, Patrick L. Friend, Coraggio K. Maglio, Kristina Boburka
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Sea Research
Index ID 70249272
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Oklahoma-Texas Water Science Center