Morphology and Sediment Transport Dynamics of a Trough-Blowout Dune, Bodega Marine Reserve, Northern California
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Blowout dunes are a primary mechanism for transporting sand within vegetated coastal dune systems. Understanding the fine-scale variation in sediment transport within these systems is critical to predicting their formation and migration. Previous investigations of a coastal dune system located at the Bodega Marine Reserve, on the Sonoma Coast of Northern California have indicated that aeolian sand flux in unvegetated sand is ~450x greater than in vegetated areas. To better understand sand flux and its relationship with wind speed, direction and precipitation, we deployed an array of 12 sand traps within a single blowout area adjacent to the BOON marine climatology station. The blowout is trough- shaped, approximately 50 meters long and 15 meters wide. Its main 'fairway' is 5-10 meters below the surrounding beach grass (Ammophila)-covered land surface. Surface sediment within the blowout is fine-grained to granule-sized lithic to sub-lithic sand, and is coarsest in the center. Dune sediment in the Bodega Marine Reserve has been transported by aeolian processes from Salmon Creek Beach to the NW. Within the blowout, typical bedforms include 15-25 cm-wavelength, ~10 cm high sinuous to lingoid ripples arranged perpendicularly to the dominant wind direction (~280 degrees). An 8-10 meter-high mound at the downwind end has accumulated due to the trapping of sand flux by vegetation. Sediment flux across the studied blowout was sampled monthly over a 10-month period of 2013-2014. Sand traps were constructed using modified PVC cylinders, and are 0.5 meter high and 0.3 meter in diameter, with a 0.74-micron mesh screen. Based on measured sand flux, the sites can be categorized into three groups-axial, medial, and peripheral. Rates increase downwind within the blowout. Inter-site sand flux variability within unvegetated locations of the blowout is greater than two orders of magnitude. Axial sites, which experience the greatest sand flux, occur on the edge of the blowout adjacent to an older 10 meter-high dune that is currently being eroded. Peripheral sites occur near the margins of the blowout. Based on all of the available information, we find sand flux is strongly influenced by local topographic features and the upwind configuration of transport-prone surfaces, and is poorly predicted by regional wind vectors and grain sizes.