The Santa Cruz Littoral Cell: Difficulties in Quantifying a Coastal Sediment Budget

by Tim C. Best, Foxx-Nielsen & Assoc, Santa Cruz, United States,
Gary B. Griggs, Foxx-Nielsen & Assoc, Santa Cruz, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Sediments


Beach compartments or littoral cells form the framework for our understanding of the sources, transport, sinks, and storage of sand in the nearshore zone. In general, along the California coast, beach sand is derived from rivers or bluff erosion, moves alongshore under the influence of the prevailing waves, and ultimately is lost either to a submarine canyon or dune field. The Santa Cruz Littoral Cell appears to extend at least as far north as San Francisco Bay and terminates downcoast at Monterey Submarine Canyon. Northwesterly waves drive littoral drift at a rate of about 200,000 to 250,000 m3/year at the Santa Cruz Harbor. The major sources of sand within the cell are coastal streams draining the Santa Cruz Mountains and the eroding coastal bluffs. Although the littoral cell concept is quite simple, delineating the boundaries of littoral cells and quantifying the importance of individual inputs and outputs is far more complex. This type of information is critical, however, for making long term coastal zone management decisions.

Subject Headings: Littoral drift | Littoral zones | Sediment | Budgets | Ocean waves | Erosion | Sea water | Coastal management | California | United States

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