Many contaminants of greatest concern in San Francisco Bay, including mercury and PCBs, are primarily associated with sediment particles rather than dissolved in water. Therefore, the movement and fate of sediment determines the movement and fate of many contaminants in the Bay. Because of this close association, the RMP monitors and seeks to understand the quantity and movement of sediment suspended in the water. Through study of suspended sediment dynamics, the RMP is developing a better understanding of trends and patterns of contaminants and how the Bay will respond to management actions during the next several decades. Recent RMP efforts to develop predictive models of contaminant fate in the Bay have highlighted the fundamental importance of understanding sediment dynamics.
Sediment movement in the Bay is determined by tides, wind, and freshwater inflow. Tides flood and ebb twice a day, wind typically is strongest in the afternoon, and freshwater inflow is greatest during the winter rainy season (see sidebar on next page). To characterize these fluctuations, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began continuous monitoring of suspended sediment concentration in 1991. Continuous suspended sediment concentration monitoring stations were established in each major region of San Francisco Bay (Figure 1), establishing a continuous monitoring network. The sensors at each station measure the amount of material in the water every 15 minutes. Results are available on the internet at . In addition to the network, sensors have been deployed at as many as 14 additional sites in the Bay for periods of several months as part of focused studies of sediment transport in Bay locales of special interest.
|Title||Sediment dynamics drive contaminant dynamics|
|Authors||David H. Schoellhamer, Gregory Shellenbarger, Neil K. Ganju, Jay A. Davis, Lester J. McKee|
|Publication Subtype||Other Report|
|Series Title||Pulse of the Estuary|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||San Francisco Bay-Delta|