Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Special Reports in Applied Marine Science and Ocean Engineering (SRAMSOE) No. 420


Understanding the sources and sinks of suspended sediment in Chesapeake Bay tributaries is an important contribution to quantifying the Bay sediment budget, as well as an aid to management strategies. The purpose of the project was to identify estuarine sediment transport processes and estimate sediment loads and sediment budgets for the major tributaries of the Bay. The first phase included the York River, Va. and the Patuxent River, Md. Sediment transport processes, sediment loads, and a partial budget also were developed for the Potomac River, Md. The results of this study represent the most comprehensive calculations to date of sediment loads for Bay tributaries. The three rivers exhibit different magnitudes and transport directions of sediment loads at individual stations. Average sediment loads for the rivers as a whole show the York, Patuxent, and Potomac all importing sediment. Sediment budgets for the York and Patuxent show a sediment loss that is unaccounted for; i.e. more sediment is needed from sources, or sinks are too large. The York River is highly energetic, moving large amounts of sediment within the estuary. The Patuxent River is less energetic but more variable in redistributing sediment. Important future work for a more comprehensive understanding of suspended sediment transport in the Chesapeake Bay includes completion of the sediment budget for the Potomac River and calculation of estuarine transport processes, sediment loads, and sediment budgets for the James and Rappahannock Rivers, Va.



Sedimentation, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia


Final Contract Report Submitted to US Army Corps of Engineers Regional Sediment Management Study Baltimore District Baltimore, Md. Award numbers: W912DR-08-P-0396 and W912DR-09-P-0202



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