Reduced sediment export to the Pennsylvania Lake Erie littoral zone during an era of average lake levels

Anthony M. Foyle, Karen L. Schuckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper analyzes high-resolution lidar data to estimate sediment export to the Pennsylvania Lake Erie littoral zone from lakefront bluff retreat under relatively unique lake-level conditions: approximately a decade of average lake level transitioning into a mild transgression. Analysis identifies bluff-failure patterns important to coastal hazard planning, possible feeder-bluff conservation areas to preserve sediment supply, and data pertinent to sand management in the western Erie County littoral cell (WECLC) and at Presque Isle State Park in the next-downdrift cell. Based on 2007–2015 bluff-face mapping, there were net losses of 318,250 m3 of total-sediment and 105,700 m3 of sand+ (sand-boulders) to the littoral zone. On an average annual basis, bluffs thus exported 39,800 m3 of total-sediment and 13,300 m3 of sand+ to the WECLC. Exports of sand+ by six HUC-12 watersheds ranged from ~0 to 4600 m3/yr, with ~ 30% supplied by Crooked Creek watershed bluffs that occupy only 18% of the coast. Sand+ export volumes reported here were ~65% lower than prior research covering different lake-level phases. Understanding sediment export during periods of average lake level is important because such lake-level phases occur in the record and will likely recur. Incorporating a decade-scale low sediment-supply scenario for sand management in the Presque Isle littoral cell would permit fine-tuning of estimates of sand nourishment needed to mitigate ongoing beach erosion. Uncertainty in bluff-face change can be minimized by expanding data-comparison windows; future tracking of sediment export from Pennsylvania bluffs may not need lidar surveys any more frequently than once every 10–15 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology

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