Geophysical Assessment of the Control of a Jetty on a Barrier Beach and Estuary System

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Craig Ulrich1, Susan S. Hubbard1, John Peterson1, Kenneth Blom2, William Black2, Chris Delaney3 and John Mendoza3, (1)Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, United States, (2)Norcal Geophysical Consultants, Cotati, CA, United States, (3)Sonoma County Water Agency, Santa Rosa, CA, United States
An evaluation is underway at the Goat Rock State Park, located at the mouth of the Russian River near Jenner, CA, to quantify the influence of a man made jetty on the functioning of a barrier beach and associated implications for estuary fish habitat and flood control. Flow through the beach results from water level differences between the estuary and the ocean. When the estuary is closed or perched, one of the major sources of outflow from the lagoon is seepage flow through the barrier beach. The location and design of the jetty could be altering subsurface flow paths through the jetty and possibly impeding subsurface flow where the jetty is still intact. This will result in unnatural connectivity between the ocean and the estuary leading to atypical surface water elevations and possibly salinity imbalance.

We are monitoring seepage through the jetty and beach berm with multiple surface and borehole geophysical methods, including: electrical resistivity (ERT), seismic refraction (SR), ground penetrating radar (GPR), and electromagnetic methods (EM). We use SR data to characterize deeper bedrock controls on beach barrier functioning; ERT and EM methods to characterize the beach sediment layers that could contribute to preferential flow paths during tide cycles in addition to preferential flow paths created by the jetty structure; time-lapse ERT and EM data to monitor moisture changes and mixing of saline and fresh water within the beach berm, and borehole ERT and GPR data to delineate the geometry of the (often buried) jetty. Preliminary ERT and EM results indicate two preferential flow paths through zones of missing jetty structure, while time-lapse borehole ERT data is expected to image saltwater flow impedance in zones of intact jetty structure. All data are being integrated with topography, tidal, borehole, and hydrological information and the results of the assessment will enable the Sonoma County Water Agency to develop the feasibility of alternatives to the existing jetty that may help achieve target estuarine water surface elevations.