Frank O. Nitsche

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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Regional patterns and local variations of sediment distribution in the Hudson River Estuary

Nitsche, F.O., Ryan, W.B.F., Carbotte, S.M., Bell, R.E., Slagle, A., Bertinado, C., Flood, R., Kenna, T. and McHugh, C., 2007

Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 71: 259-277


The Hudson River Benthic Mapping Project, funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, resulted in a comprehensive data set consisting of high-resolution multibeam bathymetry, sidescan sonar, and sub-bottom data, as well as over 400 sediment cores and 600 grab samples. This detailed data set made it possible to study the regional pattern and the local variations of the sediment distribution in the Hudson River Estuary. Based on these data we describe the distribution of sediment texture and process-related sedimentary environments for the whole 240-km long estuary together with along-river variations of depth, cross-sectional area, and grain size distribution. We compare these parameters with changes in surrounding geology and tributary input and, as a result, divide the Hudson River Estuary in eight sections with distinct combinations of channel morphology, bedrock type, sediment texture, and sediment dynamics. The regional sediment distribution consists of marine sand-dominated sediments near the ocean end of the estuary, a large, mud-dominated central section, and fluvial sand-dominated sediments in the freshwater section of the Hudson River Estuary. This regional trend is highly modified by small-scale variations in the sediment distribution. These local variations are controlled by changes in morphology, bedrock, and tributary input, as well as by anthropogenic modifications of the estuary. In some areas these local variations are larger than the overall trend in sediment distribution and control the actual sediment type, as well as the condition of erosion and deposition in the estuary.

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Frank Nitsche - last update 11/16/2007