Rapid sediment deposition and fine-scale strata formation in the Hudson estuary Academic Article uri icon


  • A 9 month time series of tripod-mounted optical and acoustic measurements of sediment concentration and bed elevation was used to examine depositional processes in relationship to hydrodynamic variables in the Hudson River estuary. A series of cores was also taken directly under and adjacent to the acoustic measurements to examine the relation between the depositional processes and the resulting fine-scale stratigraphy. The measurements reveal that deposition occurs as a result of sediment flux convergence behind a salinity front and that the accumulation rates are sufficient to deposit up to 25 cm of new high-porosity sediment in a single ebb-tidal phase. Subsequent dewatering and erosion reduces the thickness of the initial deposit to several centimeters. These depositional events were only observed on spring tides. Ten depositional events during two spring tidal cycles produced a seasonal deposit of 18 cm, consistent with estimates of seasonal deposition from cores. A proxy for near-bed suspended grain size variations was estimated from the combined acoustic and optical measurements, implying that the erosional processes resuspend only the finer-grained sediments, thus leaving behind silt and very fine grained sand beds. The thickness of the deposited homogenous clayey silt beds, and the vertical separation between beds interlaminated with silt and very fine sand, are roughly consistent with the acoustic measurements of changes in bed elevations during deposition and erosion. The variability in individual bed thickness is the result of variations of processes over an individual tidal cycle and is not a product of variations over the spring neap fortnightly timescale.

publication date

  • June 2004