McKnight, K.; Braud, A.; Dusterhoff, S.; Grenier, L.; Shaw, S.; Lowe, J.; Foley, M.; McKee, L. 2023. Conceptual Understanding of Fine Sediment Transport in San Francisco Bay. SFEI Contribution No. 1114. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.

Sediment is a lifeblood of San Francisco Bay (Bay). It serves three key functions: (1) create and maintain tidal marshes and mudflats, (2) transport nutrients and contaminants, and (3) reduce impacts from excessive human-derived nutrients in the Bay. Because of these important roles, we need a detailed understanding of sediment processes in the Bay.

This report offers a conceptual understanding of how fine-grained sediment (i.e. silt and finer, henceforth called fine sediment) moves around at different scales within the Bay, now and into the future, to synthesize current knowledge and identify critical knowledge gaps. This information can be used to support Bay sediment management efforts and help prioritize funding for research and monitoring. In particular, this conceptual understanding is designed to inform future San Francisco Bay Regional Monitoring Program (RMP) work under the guidance of the Sediment Workgroup of the RMP for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay, which brings together experts who have worked on many different components of the landscape, including watersheds and tributaries, marshes and mudflats, beaches, and the open Bay. This report describes sediment at two scales: a conceptual understanding of open-Bay sediment processes at the Bay and subembayment scale (Chapter 2); and a conceptual understanding of sediment processes at the baylands scale (Chapter 3). Chapter 4 summarizes the key knowledge gaps and provides recommendations for future studies.