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First Year Sedimentological Characteristics and Morphological Evolution of an Artificial Berm at Fort Myers Beach, Florida

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Master's thesis

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Dredging is often conducted to maintain authorized depths in coastal navigation channels. Placement of dredged sediment in the form of nearshore berms is becoming an increasingly popular option for disposal. Compared to direct beach placement, nearshore berms have fewer environmental impacts such as shore birds and turtle nesting, and have more lenient sediment compatibility restrictions. Understanding the potential morphological and sedimentological evolution is crucial to the design of a nearshore berm. Furthermore, the artificial perturbation generated by the berm installation provides a unique opportunity to understand the equilibrium process of coastal morphodynamics. Matanzas Pass and Bowditch Point, located on the northern tip of Estero Island in west-central Florida were dredged in October 2009. The dredged material was placed approximately 600 ft offshore of Fort Myers Beach and 1.5 miles southeast of Matanzas Pass, in the form of an artificial berm. Time-series surveys and sediment sampling were conducted semi-annually in order to quantify sedimentological characteristics and morphological changes within the first year after construction of the berm. The artificial berm at Fort Myers Beach is composed mainly of fine sand. Patches of mud were found throughout the study area, with the highest concentrations being in the trough landward of the berm, and offshore southeast of the berm area. The highest concentration of carbonates was found in the swash zone, as well as at the landward toe of the berm, which coincides with the coarsest sediment. The overall mud content of the berm is lower than that of the dredged sediment, thus indicating a coarsening of the berm over time. The reduction in fines as compared to the original dredged sediment could also indicate a selective transport mechanism that moves finer material offshore, and coarser material landward, a desirable trend for artificial berm nourishment.

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  • Physical and Dynamic Oceanography
  • Hydrology, Limnology and Potamology

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