Observation of Suspended Sediments in Mobile Bay, Alabama from Satellite

by Richard P. Stumpf, U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Sediments


As part of a comprehensive geologic study of coastal Alabama and Mississippi, the U.S. Geological Survey is investigating coastal sediment transport in Mobile Bay and the adjacent shelf. Satellite imagery from the NOAA AVHRR is being used to provide data on the variability of spatial patterns in the near-surface suspended sediment concentration. This imagery is processed using atmospheric corrections to remove haze and Rayleigh radiance in order to obtain water reflectances; the reflectances are than converted to approximate sediment concentrations using standard relationships between water reflectance and in situ sediment concentrations. A series of images from early 1990 shows rapid changes in sediment concentrations in response to high river flow of the Alabama-Tombigbee river system. During these times, suspended sediment tends to flow out Mobile Bay without mixing into the eastern lobe of the Bay (Bon Secour Bay). The sediment concentration field also appears to be disturbed by the main ship channel. The sediment plume extends more than 60 km offshore after the peak flow event. One wind event in December 1989 was identified as increasing sediment concentration in the Bay. It is not believed that such an event has been previously observed from satellite.

Subject Headings: Suspended sediment | Bays | Sediment transport | Sediment | Aerial photography | Satellites | Geology | Geological surveys | United States | Alabama | Mississippi

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