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Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Coastal Processes

Sand Provenance

Image of conceptual model of  primary beach-sized sand transport pathways in the San Francisco Bay Coastal System; click to visit the source.
Final conceptual model of the primary beach-sized sand transport pathways in the San Francisco Bay Coastal System.

These scientific papers describe the sources, composition, and pathways of sand in San Francisco Bay.

Cross-validation of bedform asymmetry and modeled residual sediment flux to determine sediment transport patterns in the San Francisco Bay Coastal System, Barnard, P.L., Erikson, L.H., Elias, E., Dartnell, P., Marine Geology, 2013,

  • ~ 45,000 asymmetry measurements used to identify sediment transport directions
  • Results cross-validated against residual transport from a numerical model
  • Net seaward asymmetry also corroborated by flow-sculpted seafloor features
  • Approach useful to identify transport patterns in estuaries worldwide

The use of modeling and suspended sediment concentration measurements for quantifying net suspended sediment transport through a large tidally dominated inlet, Erikson L.E., Wright, S.A., Elias, E., Hanes, D.H., Schoellhamer, D.H., Largier, J., Marine Geology, 2013,

  • Developed a relationship between observed SSCs and sediment flux at the Golden Gate
  • Identified previously undocumented eddies at the Golden Gate
  • Sediment pulse transports estimated to take 8 to 12 days from Suisun to Central Bay

Distribution of biologic, anthropogenic, and volcanic constituents as a proxy for sediment transport in the San Francisco Bay Coastal System, McGann, M., Erikson, L., Wan, E., Powell II, C., Maddocks, R.F., Marine Geology, 2013,

  • Sediment is transported from the Delta throughout the Bay and out to the marine realm
  • Marine biota are transported into the Bay to the farthest reaches of the estuary
  • The channel is a conduit for sediment movement and where scouring occurs
  • A multi-proxy use of sediment constituents identified sediment transport pathways

A Sr-Nd isotopic study of sand-sized sediment provenance and transport for the San Francisco Bay Coastal System, Rosenbauer, R.J., Foxgrover, A.C., Hein, J.R., Swarzenski, P.W., Marine Geology, 2013,

  • Isotopic tracers and REE used to examine sediment sources, sinks, and transport paths
  • Provenance determined by geographic distribution and statistical analyses
  • Sediment in SF Bay derived from varied sources and subject to mixing processes
  • Deciphered complex arrays of local and distal sediment sources through SF Bay System
  • Integrated multi-faceted approach for assessing provenance

Sand sources and transport pathways for the San Francisco Bay coastal system, based on X-ray diffraction mineralogy, Hein, J.R., Mizell, K., Barnard, P.L., Marine Geology, 2013,

  • XRD of bulk sand is a viable tool for provenance study
  • Cluster analysis of XRD spectra successfully groups source with sink
  • Mineralogical links define critical pathways
  • Detailed transport pathways can be inferred from the XRD data

Heavy mineral analysis for assessing the provenance of sandy sediment in the San Francisco Bay Coastal System, Wong, F.L., Woodrow, D.L., McGann, M., Marine Geology, 2013,

  • Most of the sand-sized sediment in San Francisco Bay is from Sierran sources
  • Franciscan terranes in San Francisco Bay contribute minor amounts of sand
  • Russian River sediment is not a contributor to sandy sediment in the Golden Gate area

Integration of bed characteristics, geochemical tracers, current measurements, and numerical modeling for assessing provenance of beach sand in the San Francisco Bay Coastal System, 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., Woodrow, D.L., Marine Geology, 2013,

  • 9 provenance techniques are integrated to track sand in a coastal-estuarine system
  • Cross-validation results in robust model of beach-sized sand transport pathways
  • Sources and pathways highlight scale of anthropogenic influences in the system
  • Historical decline of primary sediment source linked to erosion of ocean beaches
  • Unique approach applicable for coastal-estuarine systems worldwide


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Page Last Modified: 21 March 2014 (lzt)