Influence of varying tidal prism on hydrodynamics and sedimentary processes in a hypertidal salt marsh creek

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Abstract

Recent initiatives directing tidal power development in the Bay of Fundy have raised questions about far-field environmental impacts related to energy extraction. It is understood that commercial scale tidal power installations in the Minas Passage will result in an overall decrease in tidal amplitude in the Minas Basin. Corresponding changes in sedimentation patterns may or may not be within the natural range of variability, and it is hypothesized that intertidal sedimentation rates will demonstrate a non-linear response to modification of the tidal energy regime. This research considers acoustic Doppler velocimeter (ADV) and optical backscatter sensor (OBS) data from a sheltered tidal creek in the Minas Basin, for analysis of tidal characteristics in a hypertidal creek environment over spring and neap tidal cycles. Sediment deposition in the creek was also measured. Results show a first-order control of topography on flow magnitude in the tidal creek, which impacts net sediment deposition through resuspension and removal of newly introduced material. This study demonstrates that tides which peak around the bankfull level show reduced early ebb stage turbulence and flow velocity and encourage an extended depositional period. The dynamics of marshfull tides may be responsible for the maximum sediment deposition in tidal creeks, providing large amounts of material that is eventually distributed to and deposited on marsh surfaces.

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