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Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center

Coastal Processes

San Francisco Bay Coastal System

Summary

The objective of this project is to identify the physical processes and anthropogenic influences that have resulted in significant morphological changes to the San Francisco Bay Coastal System at a range of spatial and temporal scales. This, in turn, will aid in the assessment of the future impact of sea level rise, climate change, and sediment management practices on the beaches, tidal wetlands, and submarine resources. The project's development reflects the importance of an integrated, system-wide approach toward understanding sediment transport pathways from the delta mouth to the shelf.

Sample of a National Park Service poster produced in cooperation with the USGS.

Fort Point Wayside Poster from National Park Service [larger version]

Investigators

  • Barnard, Patrick, Coastal Geologist, Project Chief
  • Erikson, Li, Coastal Engineer
  • Hein, Jim, Geologist
  • Jaffe, Bruce, Oceanographer
  • Lacy, Jessie, Oceanographer
  • McGann, Mary, Geologist
  • Rosenbauer, Bob, Geochemist
  • Peter Swarzenski, Oceanographer
  • Renee Takesue, Geochemist
  • Florence Wong, Geologist
  • Don Woodrow, Geologist


Links: websites, newsletter articles, videos, collaborative projects

Illustration shows a depiction of the five domain decomposition grids employed in the model.San Francisco Bay Basic Tide Model

This web page provides a link to files that may be used to run a basic depth-averaged (2DH) Deltares Delft3D version 4.00.01 astronomic tide model for San Francisco Bay. It was developed with the primary aim of assessing water level fluctuations and flow conditions in the vicinity of the Golden Gate (Elias and Hansen 2013). The FLOW model consists of six 2-way coupled curvilinear domains; grid resolution varies and is finest in the vicinity of the Golden Gate where it is approximately 50m by 50m. Tides are simulated with amplitudes and phases of 12 locally dominant tidal constituents (M2, S2, N2, K2, K1, O1, P1, Q1, MF, MM, M4, MS4, and MN4) along the open ocean boundary. These files are provided ‘as is’ with the aim of promoting scientific advancement in the understanding of San Francisco Bay processes.

Our Coast Our FutureOur Coast, Our Future

Our Coast, Our Future (OCOF) is a collaborative, user-driven project focused on providing San Francisco Bay Area coastal resource and land use managers and planners locally relevant, online maps and tools to help understand, visualize, and anticipate vulnerabilities to sea level rise and storms within the bay and on the outer coast from Half Moon Bay to Bodega Bay.

cosmos thumbnailCoastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS)

The Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS) makes detailed predictions of storm-induced coastal flooding, erosion, and cliff failures over large geographic scales. CoSMoS was developed for hindcast studies, operational applications and future climate scenarios to provide emergency responders and coastal planners with critical storm-hazards information that can be used to increase public safety, mitigate physical damages, and more effectively manage and allocate resources within complex coastal settings.

CoSMoS is set up within the San Francisco Bay as an extension of Our Coast, Our Future (OCOF) work and is scheduled for release in summer of 2014. San Francisco Bay is geographically and bathymetrically complex, necessitating many alterations to the methods used on Northern California’s outer coast.

Thumbnail photo of Golden Gate Bridge.Travels with Sediment in the San Francisco Bay, Delta, and Coastal System (Sound Waves Newsletter, 2013)

Special Issue of Marine Geology Focuses on Complex Urbanized Estuary and Coast

The first ever compilation of research focused on sediment transport in the San Francisco Bay coastal system was published in November as a special issue of the journal Marine Geology, edited by USGS scientists.

Sand and Mud Home Page.San Francisco Bay Sand and Mud

The web site highlights the special published volume, from the journal Marine Geology, entitled, “A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system: San Francisco Bay.”

The site also provides links to videos, public lectures, newsletter articles, and more information on the sand and mud of San Francisco Bay.

Images and samples page.Photos and data samples

The page features photographs taken in the field while collecting samples and data, as well as examples of data outputs and products.

San Francisco Bight Coastal Processes StudySan Francisco Bight Coastal Processes Study

The USGS documented and analyzed the processes that control the sand transport and sedimentation patterns of Ocean Beach, a National Park site within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This area encompasses a complicated coastal setting that is impacted by the tidal influence of San Francisco Bay, as well as the southwest and northwest Pacific swell. High-energy conditions at this site have restricted comprehensive field surveys in the past, but recent innovations in field techniques made it possible to perform detailed analysis of the physical processes operating on high energy coastlines, such as Ocean Beach.

Video: “Turbid Bay: Sediment in Motion”; watch it in the USGS Multimedia Gallery

USGS scientists from the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center explore how sediment moves across San Francisco Bay tidal flats. The research team deploys a suite of large instrumented tripods to record sediment movements over a six-week period in early 2011. Answers from this work will help determine whether deposition of sediment at high tide is occurring quickly enough to preserve marshes in the face of sea-level rise.

The program also highlights the value and function of the USGS Mendenhall Fellowship Program. The Mendenhall Program at the USGS provides recent PhD graduates an opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research on pressing scientific questions with the guidance and mentoring of established scientists.

Is Our Coast in Jeopardy?Video: Is Our Coast in Jeopardy?
2011 USGS Public Lecture

Predicting the impact of extreme storms on the California Coast.

Thumbnail photo of scientist on tidal marsh.USGS Scientists Investigate Coastal Processes Affecting a Restored Tidal Wetland in the San Francisco Presidio
(Sound Waves Newsletter, 2008)

Back in 1915, a 127-acre tidal marsh amidst a dune field at the north end of San Francisco was filled in to make room for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

The Hidden World of the Golden GateVideo: The Hidden World of the Golden Gate
2007 USGS Public Lecture

How tides, currents, and humans have created an array of sea-floor features.

Thumbnail of USGS SIM 2987High-Resolution Bathymetry and Topography of South San Francisco Bay, California

U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 2987

This map consists of a view of the southern end of San Francisco bay with the water "removed." The image is overlain by a set of six different perspective views of the area.

Thumbnail of map.Sand Waves at the Mouth of San Francisco Bay, California

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Scientific Investigations Map 2944

A multibeam bathymetric survey, conducted in 2004 and 2005, produced unprecedented high resolution images of the mouth of San Francisco Bay. The goals of this survey were to analyze sediment transport pathways at the mouth of San Francisco Bay and to calculate bathymetric change since the last survey was completed in 1956. The survey showed that significant bathymetric changes have occurred over the past 50 years. It also revealed that the study area contains sand waves that are among the largest and bedform morphologies that are among the most varied in the world. This set of five sheets shows views of the sand waves on the seafloor from different perspectives along with descriptive text.


Publications

2013

Barnard, P.L., Erikson, L.H., Elias, E.P.L., and Dartnell, P., 2013, Sediment transport patterns in the San Francisco Bay coastal system from cross-validation of bedform asymmetry and modeled residual flux, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 72–95, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2012.10.011

Barnard, P.L., Foxgrover, A.C., Elias, E.P.L., Erikson, L.H., Hein, J.R., McGann, M., Mizell, K., Rosenbauer, R.J., Swarzenski, P.W., Takesue, R.K., Wong, F.L., and Woodrow, D.L., 2013, Integration of bed characteristics, geochemical tracers, current measurements, and numerical modeling for assessing the provenance of beach sand in the San Francisco Bay coastal system, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 181–206, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.08.007

Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., 2013, Preface for special issue of Marine Geology, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 1–2, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.09.010

Barnard, P.L., Schoellhamer, D.H., Jaffe, B.E., and McKee, L.J., 2013, Sediment transport in the San Francisco Bay coastal system—An overview, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 3–17, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.04.005

Elias, E.P.L., and Hansen, J.E., 2013, Understanding processes controlling sediment transports at the mouth of a highly energetic inlet system (San Francisco Bay, CA), in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 207–220, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2012.07.003

Erikson, L.H., Wright, S.A., Elias, E., Hanes, D.M., Schoellhamer, D.H., and Largier, J., 2013, The use of modeling and suspended sediment concentration measurements for quantifying net suspended sediment transport, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 96–112, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.06.001

Greene, H.G., Endris, C., Vallier, T., Golden, N., Cross, J., Ryan, H., Dieter, B., and Niven, E., 2013, Sub-tidal benthic habitats of central San Francisco Bay and offshore Golden Gate area—A review, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 31–46, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.05.001

Hansen, J.E., Elias, E., and Barnard, P.L., 2013, Changes in surfzone morphodynamics driven by multi-decadal contraction of a large ebb-tidal delta, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 221–234, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.07.005

Hansen, J.E., Elias, E., List, J.H., Erikson, L.H. and Barnard, P.L., 2013, Tidally influenced alongshore circulation at an inlet-adjacent shoreline: Continental Shelf Research, Volume 56, p. 26-38, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2013.01.017

Hein, J.R., Mizell, K., and Barnard, P.L., 2013, Sand sources and transport pathways for the San Francisco Bay coastal system, based on X-ray diffraction mineralogy, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 154–169, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.04.003

Jones, C.A., and Jaffe, B.E., 2013, Influence of history and environment on the sediment dynamics of intertidal flats, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 294–303, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.05.011

McGann, M., Erikson, L., Wan, E., Powell, C., II, and Maddocks, R.F., 2013, Distribution of biologic, anthopogenic, and volcanic constituents as a proxy for sediment transport in the San Francisco Bay coastal system, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 113–142, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.05.006

Rosenbauer, R.J., Foxgrover, A.C., Hein, J.R., and Swarzenski, P.W., 2013, A Sr–Nd isotopic study of sand-sized sediment provenance and transport for the San Francisco Bay coastal system, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 143–153, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.01.002

van der Wegen, M., and Jaffe, B.E., 2013, Does centennial morphodynamic evolution lead to higher channel efficiency in San Pablo Bay, California?, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 254–265, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.06.020

Wong, F.L., Woodrow, D.L., and McGann, M., 2013, Heavy mineral analysis for assessing the provenance of sandy sediment in the San Francisco Bay coastal system, in Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., and Schoellhamer, D.H., eds., A multi-discipline approach for understanding sediment transport and geomorphic evolution in an estuarine-coastal system—San Francisco Bay: Marine Geology, v. 345, p. 170–180, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.05.012

2012

Barnard, P.L., Erikson, L.H., Elias, E., and Dartnell, P., 2012. Cross-validation of bedform asymmetry and modeled residual sediment flux to determine sediment transport patterns in the San Francisco Bay Coastal System. Marine Geology, Special Issue San Francisco Bay, 24 pp., doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2012.10.011

Barnard, P.L., Erikson, L.H., Rubin, D.M., Dartnell, P. and Kvitek, R.G., 2012, Analyzing bedforms mapped using multibeam sonar to determine regional bedload sediment transport patterns in the San Francisco Bay coastal system. Sedimentology, In: Li, M.Z., Sherwood, C.R., and Hill, P.R. (Eds.), Sediments, Morphology and Sedimentary Processes on Continental Shelves: Advances in technologies, research and applications. Special Publication 44 of the International Association of Sedimentologists (IAS), p. 273-294

Barnard, P.L., Hansen, J.E., and Erikson, L.H., 2012, Synthesis study of an erosion hot spot, Ocean Beach, California (USA): Journal of Coastal Research, v. 28, no. 4, p. 903–922, doi:10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-11-00212.1

Foxgrover, A.C., and Barnard, P.L., 2012, A seamless, high-resolution digital elevation model (DEM) of the north-central California coast: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 684, 11 p. and data files, http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/684/

2011

Barnard, P.L., Allan, J., Hansen, J.E., Kaminsky, G.M., Ruggiero, P. and Doria, A., 2011, The impact of the 2009-10 El Niño Modoki on U.S. West Coast beaches: Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 38, L13604, 7 pp., doi:10.1029/2011GL047707

Barnard, P.L., Erikson, L.H. and Kvitek, R.G., 2011. Small-scale sediment transport patterns and bedform morphodynamics: new insights from high resolution multibeam bathymetry. Geo-Marine Letters, Volume 31 (4), p. 227-236, doi:10.1007/s00367-011-0227-1

Barnard, P.L., Hoover, D. and Hansen, J.E., 2011, Nearshore bathymetric evolution on a high-energy beach during the 2009-10 El Niño winter. In: Wang, P., Rosati, J.D. and Roberts, T.M. (Eds.) Coastal Sediments '11, Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes, American Society of Civil Engineers, Miami, FL, p. 1390-1403

Dallas, Kate L., and Barnard, Patrick L., 2011, Anthropogenic influences on shoreline and nearshore evolution in the San Francisco Bay coastal system: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, v. 92, no. 1, p. 195-204, doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2010.12.031

Hanes, D.M, Barnard, P.L., Dallas, K., Elias, E., Erikson, L.H., Eshelman, J., Hansen, J.E. Hsu, T.J., and Shi, F., 2011, Recent scientific advances and their implications for sand management near San Francisco, California: the influences of the ebb tidal delta. In: Wang, P., Rosati, J.D. and Roberts, T.M. (Eds.) Coastal Sediments '11, Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes, American Society of Civil Engineers, Miami, FL, p. 472-483, doi:10.1142/9789814355537_0036

Hansen, J.E., Elias, E., List, J.H. and Barnard, P.L., 2011, A numerical model investigation of the formation and persistence of an erosion hot spot. In: Wang, P., Rosati, J.D. and Roberts, T.M. (Eds.) Coastal Sediments '11, Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes, American Society of Civil Engineers, Miami, FL, p. 1769-1782, doi:10.1142/9789814355537_0134

Lacy, J.R., and Hoover, D.J., 2011, Wave exposure of Corte Madera Marsh, Marin County, California; a field investigation: US Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1183, 28 p.

Shi, F., Hanes, D.M., Kirby, J.T., Erikson, L., Barnard, P.L. and Eshleman, J., 2011, Pressure gradient-dominated nearshore circulation on a beach influenced by a large inlet-tidal shoal system. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, Volume 116, C04020, 18 pp., doi:10.1029/2010JC006788

Yates, M.L., Guza, R.T., O'Reilly, W.C., Hansen, J.E. and Barnard, P.L., 2011, Equilibrium shoreline response of a high wave energy beach. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, Volume 116, C04014, 13 pp., doi:10.1029/2010JC006681

2010

Barnard, Patrick L., and Kvitek, Rikk G., 2010, Anthropogenic influence on recent bathymetric change in west-central San Francisco Bay: San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, v. 8, no. 3, 13 p. [http://escholarship.org/uc/item/6k3524hg] [Download pdf (4.1 MB)]

Brand, A., Lacy, J.R., Hsu, K., Hoover, D., Gladding, S., and M.T. Stacey. 2010. Wind-enhanced resuspension in the shallow waters of South San Francisco Bay: Mechanisms and potential implications for cohesive sediment transport. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans 115 (C11024), doi:10.1029/2010JC006172

Chin, J.L., Woodrow, D.L., McGann, M., Wong. F.L., Fregoso, T., and Jaffe, B. E., 2010, Estuarine Sedimentation in Central San Francisco Bay, California: Chaper I in Chin, J.L., Woodrow, D.L., McGann, Mary, Wong, F.L., Fregoso, Theresa, and Jaffe, B.E., 2010, Estuarine sedimentation, sediment character, and foraminiferal distribution in central San Francisco Bay, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1130, 58 p., data tables, and GIS data., p. 3-13,

Hansen, Jeff E., and Barnard, Patrick L., 2010, Sub-weekly to interannual variability of a high-energy shoreline: Coastal Engineering, 57(11-12), 959-972. doi:10.1016/j.coastaleng.2010.05.011

McGann, Mary, 2010, Central San Francisco Bay Foraminferal Study: Chaper III in Estuarine sedimentation, sediment character, and foraminiferal distribution in Central San Francisco Bay, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1130, p. 35-58

Rosenbauer, R.J., Campbell, P.L., Lam, Angela, Lorenson, T.D., Hostettler, F.D., Thomas, Burt, and Wong, F.L., 2010, Reconnaissance of Macondo-1 well oil in sediment and tarballs from the northern Gulf of Mexico shoreline, Texas to Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1290, 22 p.

Woodrow, D., Chin, J., Wong, F., Fregoso, T., and Jaffe, B., 2010, Gravity cores, radiocarbon dates, and grain-size of surficial sediments, Central San Francisco Bay, California: Chaper II in Estuarine sedimentation, sediment character, and foraminiferal distribution in Central San Francisco Bay, California: U.S. Geological Survey Report Series 2010-1130, p. 14-34

Yu, X., Hsu, T.J., and Hanes, D.M., 2010, Sediment transport under wave groups: Relative importance between nonlinear wave shape and nonlinear boundary layer streaming, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 115, C02013, doi:10.1029/2009JC005348

2009

Barnard, P.L., Erikson, L.H. and Hansen, J.E., 2009. Monitoring and modeling shoreline response due to shoreface nourishment on a high-energy coast. Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue 56, p. 29-33

Barnard, P.L., Erikson, L.H., Hansen, J.E., and Elias, Edwin, 2009. The Performance of nearshore dredge disposal at Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California, 2005-2007. USGS Open-File Report 2008-1347, 93 p.

Barnard, P.L., O'Reilly, B., van Ormondt, M., Elias, E., Ruggiero, P., Erikson, L.H., Hapke, C., Collins, B.D., Guza, R.T., Adams, P.N. and Thomas, J.T., 2009, The framework of a coastal hazards model: a tool for predicting the impact of severe storms: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009-1073, 21 pp.

Dallas, K. and Barnard, P.L., 2009. Linking human impacts within an estuary to ebb-tidal delta evolution. Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue 56, p. 713-716, Download PDF, 801 kb

Hanes, D. M., 2009, Recent technologies usher in new era of coastal geomorphology research: Eos Trans. AGU, 90(23), 198-199

Hansen, J.E. and Barnard, P.L., 2009, The observed relationship between wave conditions and beach response: a tool for coastal management: Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue 56, p. 1771-1775, Download PDF, 958 kb

Ji, S., Hanes, D.M., and Shen, H.H., 2009, Comparisons of Physical Experiment and Discrete Element Simulations of Rapidly Sheared Granular Materials in an Annular Shear Cell, Mechanics of Materials: doi:10.1016/j.mechmat.2009.01.029

Sterlini, F., S. J. M. H. Hulscher, and D. M. Hanes, 2009, Simulating and understanding sand wave variation: A case study of the Golden Gate sand waves, J. Geophys. Res., 114, F02007, doi:10.1029/2008JF000999

2008

McGann, M., 2008, High-resolution foraminiferal, isotopic, and trace element records from Holocene estuarine deposits of San Francisco Bay, California: Journal of Coastal Research, v. 24, no. 5, p. 1092-1109

2007

Barnard, P.L., Eshleman, J.L., Erikson, L.H., Hanes, D.M., 2007. Coastal processes study at Ocean Beach, San Francisco, CA: summary of data collection 2004–2006. U.S. Geological Survey, Open File Report 2007–1217. 165 pp., http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1217/

Foxgrover, Amy C., Dartnell, Peter, Jaffe, Bruce E., Takekawa, John Y, and Athearn, Nicole D., 2007, High-resolution bathymetry and topography of south San Francisco Bay, California: USGS Scientific Investigations Map 2987, 1 sheet

2006

Barnard, P.L., Hanes, D.M., Kvitek, R.G., and Iampietro, P.J., 2006, Sand waves at the mouth of San Francisco Bay, California: USGS Scientific Investigations Map 2944, 5 plates

 

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