WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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What’s with those red buoys in Alsea Bay?….

Alsea Bay  OSU Sediment Study

Alsea Bay
OSU Sediment Study

Monitoring sediment and organic materials in Alsea Bay estuary

From: Drs. Miguel Goni and Jim Lerczak, Oregon State University

(Here’s what those red buoys are all about, bobbing out there on Alsea Bay)

Like many of the small rivers along the Oregon Coastal Range, the Alsea is ‘flashy.’ When a Pacific Storm brings heavy rains to the coast, river stage and the flow of river currents can rise rapidly and often reaches flood stage in the winter. As river flow increases, high concentrations of sediments and organic materials can be brought from the forests of the coastal range to settle on the intertidal flats of the bay or be flushed out to the coastal ocean. These materials are important to the ecosystems of the bay and of the coastal ocean.

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This past winter Drs. Miguel Goni and Jim Lerczak of Oregon State University monitored sediment concentrations and sediment movement in Alsea Bay as part of a project funded by the National Science Foundation. They have been measuring sediment concentrations and currents in the bay to determine exactly how much sediment makes it down from the coastal mountains and determine how much sediment and organic materials settles on intertidal flats and how much bypasses the flats to be flushed directly to the coast. They have been making measurements by surveying from small boats. In addition, they have anchored current meters and sediment sensors at different locations of the bay. For example, you may have noticed red buoys near the Port of Alsea and upriver near Drift Creek. Both of these buoys have a sediment sensor attached to them.

The experiment started in December 2012 and will continue until May 2013. It will be repeated next winter (2013-2014). If you have any questions about the experiment, feel free to contact Jim Lerczak (jlerczak@coas.oregonstate.edu) or Miguel Goni (mgoni@coas.oregonstate.edu).

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