Thursday, March 29, 2007

Giant sandy bedforms seaward of the Golden Gate Bridge

High-resolution sea-floor mapping done in 2004 and 2005 by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and Cal State Monterey Bay (CSUMB) reveals a field of gigantic sand waves just west of the Golden Gate of San Francisco Bay.

More than 40 large sand waves were mapped, with crest-to-crest lengths of as much as 220 meters and heights of as much as 10 meters. Although the tidal range is not huge here, the narrowness of the Golden Gate straight augments the tidal force significantly (tidal currents > 2.5 m/s). Note in perspective bathymetric images how the area directly under the bridge (blue/purple colors) is kept clean of sediment.

Here is a short synopsis from the USGS's website.

Here is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle from last summer.

Check this out for another submarine view of San Francisco Bay.

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