Regional Sediment Transport in the Coastal Boundary Layer of the Central Alaskan Beaufort Sea

by Alan W. Niedoroda, Old Dominion Univ, Norfolk, United States,
Joseph M. Colonell, Old Dominion Univ, Norfolk, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Sediments


The characteristics of regional sediment transport in the Central Alaskan Beaufort Sea Coastal Ocean are defined by sources, marine sediment dynamics, and areas of net sedimentation. These are examined in the Prudhoe Bay area with an extensive set of sediment and oceanographic data that has been collected over the last decade through monitoring the marine environment in concert with petroleum industry facility development between Pt. Brower and Simpson Lagoon. Measured circulation and hydrography confirm coastal boundary layer processes similar to many other locations. Marine sediment is transported during the 2 1/2 month open water season through the combined action of episodic periods of high river discharge and periods of strong northeast and northwest wind. Highest discharges of river water and sediment occur early in the open water season. The response of coastal waters to variable wind forcing is rapid so that strong bottom currents are highly correlated with wind conditions. Characteristic patterns of sediment entrainment and transport are determined from measured currents, hindcast waves and computation of the suspended and bed loads. The results show that the majority of the transport occurs on the shoreface that crosses the front of Prudhoe Bay seaward of a baymouth shoal. Sediment is transported all across the shoreface and the adjoining Stefansson Sound in ordinary storm conditions. The sediment fluxes are high, which means that the large net longshore and offshore fluxes are the result of averaging the high transports in many individual events each season.

Subject Headings: Sediment transport | Boundary layers | Seas and oceans | Sediment | Water discharge | Sea water | Littoral drift | Bays | Beaufort Sea | Alaska | United States

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