Woodruff Jonathan D.

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Woodruff
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Jonathan D.
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Now showing 1 - 19 of 19
  • Article
    How unique was Hurricane Sandy? Sedimentary reconstructions of extreme flooding from New York Harbor
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2014-12-08) Brandon, Christine M. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Donnelly, Jeffrey P. ; Sullivan, Richard M.
    The magnitude of flooding in New York City by Hurricane Sandy is commonly believed to be extremely rare, with estimated return periods near or greater than 1000 years. However, the brevity of tide gauge records result in significant uncertainties when estimating the uniqueness of such an event. Here we compare resultant deposition by Hurricane Sandy to earlier storm-induced flood layers in order to extend records of flooding to the city beyond the instrumental dataset. Inversely modeled storm conditions from grain size trends show that a more compact yet more intense hurricane in 1821 CE probably resulted in a similar storm tide and a significantly larger storm surge. Our results indicate the occurrence of additional flood events like Hurricane Sandy in recent centuries, and highlight the inadequacies of the instrumental record in estimating current flood risk by such extreme events.
  • Article
    Sources, mechanisms, and timescales of sediment delivery to a New England salt marsh
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-02-23) Baranes, Hannah E. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Geyer, W. Rockwell ; Yellen, Brian ; Richardson, Justin B. ; Griswold, Frances
    he availability and delivery of an external clastic sediment source is a key factor in determining salt marsh resilience to future sea level rise. However, information on sources, mechanisms, and timescales of sediment delivery are lacking, particularly for wave-protected mesotidal estuaries. Here we show that marine sediment mobilized and delivered during coastal storms is a primary source to the North and South Rivers, a mesotidal bar-built estuary in a small river system impacted by frequent, moderate-intensity storms that is typical to New England (United States). On the marsh platform, deposition rates, clastic content, and dilution of fluvially-sourced contaminated sediment by marine material all increase down-estuary toward the inlet, consistent with a predominantly marine-derived sediment source. Marsh clastic deposition rates are also highest in the storm season. We observe that periods of elevated turbidity in channels and over the marsh are concurrent with storm surge and high wave activity offshore, rather than with high river discharge. Flood tide turbidity also exceeds ebb tide turbidity during storm events. Timescales of storm-driven marine sediment delivery range from 2.5 days to 2 weeks, depending on location within the estuary; therefore the phasing of storm surge and waves with the spring-neap cycle determines how effectively post-event suspended sediment is delivered to the marsh platform. This study reveals that sediment supply and the associated resilience of New England mesotidal salt marshes involves the interplay of coastal and estuarine processes, underscoring the importance of looking both up- and downstream to identify key drivers of environmental change.
  • Article
    Salt wedge dynamics lead to enhanced sediment trapping within side embayments in high-energy estuaries
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-03-17) Yellen, Brian ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Ralston, David K. ; MacDonald, Daniel G. ; Jones, David S.
    Off-river coves and embayments provide accommodation space for sediment accumulation, particularly for sandy estuaries where high energy in the main channel prevents significant long-term storage of fine-grained material. Seasonal sediment inputs to Hamburg Cove in the Connecticut River estuary (USA) were monitored to understand the timing and mechanisms for sediment storage there. Unlike in freshwater tidal coves, sediment was primarily trapped here during periods of low discharge, when the salinity intrusion extended upriver to the cove entrance. During periods of low discharge and high sediment accumulation, deposited sediment displayed geochemical signatures consistent with a marine source. Numerical simulations reveal that low discharge conditions provide several important characteristics that maximize sediment trapping. First, these conditions allow the estuarine turbidity maximum (ETM) to be located in the vicinity of the cove entrance, which increases sediment concentrations during flood tide. Second, the saltier water in the main channel can enter the cove as a density current, enhancing near-bed velocities and resuspending sediment, providing an efficient delivery mechanism. Finally, higher salinity water accumulates in the deep basin of the cove, creating a stratified region that becomes decoupled from ebb currents, promoting retention of sediment in the cove. This process of estuarine-enhanced sediment accumulation in off-river coves will likely extend upriver during future sea level rise.
  • Article
    Climate forcing of unprecedented intense-hurricane activity in the last 2000 years
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-02-23) Donnelly, Jeffrey P. ; Hawkes, Andrea D. ; Lane, D. Philip ; MacDonald, Dana ; Shuman, Bryan N. ; Toomey, Michael R. ; van Hengstum, Peter J. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D.
    How climate controls hurricane variability has critical implications for society is not well understood. In part, our understanding is hampered by the short and incomplete observational hurricane record. Here we present a synthesis of intense-hurricane activity from the western North Atlantic over the past two millennia, which is supported by a new, exceptionally well-resolved record from Salt Pond, Massachusetts (USA). At Salt Pond, three coarse grained event beds deposited in the historical interval are consistent with severe hurricanes in 1991 (Bob), 1675, and 1635 C.E., and provide modern analogs for 32 other prehistoric event beds. Two intervals of heightened frequency of event bed deposition between 1400 and 1675 C.E. (10 events) and 150 and 1150 C.E. (23 events), represent the local expression of coherent regional patterns in intense-hurricane–induced event beds. Our synthesis indicates that much of the western North Atlantic appears to have been active between 250 and 1150 C.E., with high levels of activity persisting in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico until 1400 C.E. This interval was one with relatively warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the main development region (MDR). A shift in activity to the North American east coast occurred ca. 1400 C.E., with more frequent severe hurricane strikes recorded from The Bahamas to New England between 1400 and 1675 C.E. A warm SST anomaly along the western North Atlantic, rather than within the MDR, likely contributed to the later active interval being restricted to the east coast.
  • Article
    Assessing sedimentary records of paleohurricane activity using modeled hurricane climatology
    (American Geophysical Union, 2008-09-18) Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Donnelly, Jeffrey P. ; Emanuel, Kerry A. ; Lane, D. Philip
    Patterns of overwash deposition observed within back-barrier sediment archives can indicate past changes in tropical cyclone activity; however, it is necessary to evaluate the significance of observed trends in the context of the full range of variability under modern climate conditions. Here we present a method for assessing the statistical significance of patterns observed within a sedimentary hurricane-overwash reconstruction. To alleviate restrictions associated with the limited number of historical hurricanes affecting a specific site, we apply a recently published technique for generating a large number of synthetic storms using a coupled ocean-atmosphere hurricane model set to simulate modern climatology. Thousands of overwash records are generated for a site using a random draw of these synthetic hurricanes, a prescribed threshold for overwash, and a specified temporal resolution based on sedimentation rates observed at a particular site. As a test case we apply this Monte Carlo technique to a hurricane-induced overwash reconstruction developed from Laguna Playa Grande (LPG), a coastal lagoon located on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico in the northeastern Caribbean. Apparent overwash rates in the LPG overwash record are observed to be four times lower between 2500 and 1000 years B.P. when compared to apparent overwash rates during the last 300 years. However, probability distributions based on Monte Carlo simulations indicate that as much as 65% of this drop can be explained by a reduction in the temporal resolution for older sediments due to a decrease in sedimentation rates. Periods of no apparent overwash activity at LPG between 2500 and 3600 years B.P. and 500–1000 years B.P. are exceptionally long and are unlikely to occur (above 99% confidence) under the current climate conditions. In addition, breaks in activity are difficult to produce even when the hurricane model is forced to a constant El Niño state. Results from this study continue to support the interpretation that the western North Atlantic has exhibited significant changes in hurricane climatology over the last 5500 years.
  • Article
    Grain-size analysis of hurricane-induced event beds in a New England salt marsh, Massachusetts, USA
    (Coastal Education and Research Foundation, 2021-03-05) Castagno, Katherine ; Donnelly, Jeffrey P. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D.
    Tropical cyclones pose a growing threat to coastal infrastructure and livelihood. Because instrumental and historic records are too short to help us understand interactions between tropical cyclones and climate on a longer scale, proxy records are the only means for reconstructing millennia of tropical cyclone impacts. This study determines grain-size trends in storm-induced overwash deposits along a transect of sediment cores from a salt marsh in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, to characterize sorting trends and compare deposits associated with individual storms. The overwash deposits preserved within the high-marsh peat provide a record spanning the last two millennia. Building on a 2010 study, a different approach was used to accurately determine the grain-size distribution of overwash deposits from cores in a transect running perpendicular to the adjacent sandy/gravely barrier. Although maximum grain-size values are expected to decrease as distance from the barrier increases, not all event deposits that were studied follow this trend within uncertainty. Analysis of the storm event beds reveal a significant difference in settling trends between historic and prehistoric deposits, with historic deposits largely displaying landward-fining trends and prehistoric deposits largely displaying landward-coarsening trends. This suggests changes in the hydrodynamic or that geomorphic regime may have altered the way in which storm beds were deposited at this site. This new in-depth, transect-based approach has utility for improving the accuracy of future storm reconstructions, particularly for events for which no historic record exists.
  • Article
    Turbidity hysteresis in an estuary and tidal river following an extreme discharge event
    (Wiley, 2020-07-17) Ralston, David K. ; Yellen, Brian ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Fernald, Sarah
    Nonlinear turbidity‐discharge relationships are explored in the context of sediment sourcing and event‐driven hysteresis using long‐term (≥12‐year) turbidity observations from the tidal freshwater and saline estuary of the Hudson River. At four locations spanning 175 km, turbidity generally increased with discharge but did not follow a constant log‐log dependence, in part due to event‐driven adjustments in sediment availability. Following major sediment inputs from extreme precipitation and discharge events in 2011, turbidity in the tidal river increased by 20–50% for a given discharge. The coherent shifts in the turbidity‐discharge relationship along the tidal river over the subsequent 2 years suggest that the 2011 events increased sediment availability for resuspension. In the saline estuary, changes in the sediment‐discharge relationship were less apparent after the high discharge events, indicating that greater background turbidity due to internal sources make event‐driven inputs less important in the saline estuary at interannual time scales.
  • Preprint
    Atlantic hurricanes and climate over the past 1,500 years
    ( 2009-06) Mann, Michael E. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Donnelly, Jeffrey P. ; Zhang, Zhihua
    Atlantic Tropical Cyclone (TC) activity, as measured by annual storm counts, reached anomalous levels over the past decade. The short nature of the historical record and potential issues with its reliability in earlier decades, however, has prompted an ongoing debate regarding the reality and significance of the recent rise. Here, we place recent activity in a longer-term context, by comparing two independent estimates of TC activity over the past 1500 years. The first estimate is based on a composite of regional sedimentary evidence of landfalling hurricanes, while the second estimate employs a previously published statistical model of Atlantic TC activity driven by proxy-reconstructions of past climate changes. Both approaches yield consistent evidence of a peak in Atlantic TC activity during Medieval times (around AD 1000) followed by a subsequent lull in activity. The Medieval peak, which rivals or even exceeds (within uncertainties) recent levels of activity, results in the statistical model from a ‘perfect storm’ of La Niña-like climate conditions and relative tropical Atlantic warmth.
  • Article
    Watershed suspended sediment supply and potential impacts of dam removals for an estuary
    (Springer, 2021-01-04) Ralston, David K. ; Yellen, Brian ; Woodruff, Jonathan D.
    Observations and modeling are used to assess potential impacts of sediment releases due to dam removals on the Hudson River estuary. Watershed sediment loads are calculated based on sediment-discharge rating curves for gauges covering 80% of the watershed area. The annual average sediment load to the estuary is 1.2 Mt, of which about 0.6 Mt comes from side tributaries. Sediment yield varies inversely with watershed area, with regional trends that are consistent with substrate erodibility. Geophysical and sedimentological surveys in seven subwatersheds of the Lower Hudson were conducted to estimate the mass and composition of sediment trapped behind dams. Impoundments were classified as (1) active sediment traps, (2) run-of-river sites not actively trapping sediment, and (3) dammed natural lakes and spring-fed ponds. Based on this categorization and impoundment attributes from a dam inventory database, the total mass of impounded sediment in the Lower Hudson watershed is estimated as 4.9 ± 1.9 Mt. This represents about 4 years of annual watershed supply, which is small compared with some individual dam removals and is not practically available given current dam removal rates. More than half of dams impound drainage areas less than 1 km2, and play little role in downstream sediment supply. In modeling of a simulated dam removal, suspended sediment in the estuary increases modestly near the source during discharge events, but otherwise effects on suspended sediment are minimal. Fine-grained sediment deposits broadly along the estuary and coarser sediment deposits near the source, with transport distance inversely related to settling velocity.
  • Article
    Seismic evidence of glacial-age river incision into the Tahaa barrier reef, French Polynesia
    (Elsevier, 2016-04-13) Toomey, Michael R. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Donnelly, Jeffrey P. ; Ashton, Andrew D. ; Perron, J. Taylor
    Rivers have long been recognized for their ability to shape reef-bound volcanic islands. On the time-scale of glacial–interglacial sea-level cycles, fluvial incision of exposed barrier reef lagoons may compete with constructional coral growth to shape the coastal geomorphology of ocean islands. However, overprinting of Pleistocene landscapes by Holocene erosion or sedimentation has largely obscured the role lowstand river incision may have played in developing the deep lagoons typical of modern barrier reefs. Here we use high-resolution seismic imagery and core stratigraphy to examine how erosion and/or deposition by upland drainage networks has shaped coastal morphology on Tahaa, a barrier reef-bound island located along the Society Islands hotspot chain in French Polynesia. At Tahaa, we find that many channels, incised into the lagoon floor during Pleistocene sea-level lowstands, are located near the mouths of upstream terrestrial drainages. Steeper antecedent topography appears to have enhanced lowstand fluvial erosion along Tahaa's southwestern coast and maintained a deep pass. During highstands, upland drainages appear to contribute little sediment to refilling accommodation space in the lagoon. Rather, the flushing of fine carbonate sediment out of incised fluvial channels by storms and currents appears to have limited lagoonal infilling and further reinforced development of deep barrier reef lagoons during periods of highstand submersion.
  • Preprint
    A decadally-resolved paleohurricane record archived in the late Holocene sediments of a Florida sinkhole
    ( 2011-07) Lane, D. Philip ; Donnelly, Jeffrey P. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Hawkes, Andrea D.
    A 4500-year record of hurricane-induced storm surges is developed from sediment cores collected from a coastal sinkhole near Apalachee Bay, Florida. Recent deposition of sand layers in the upper sediments of the pond was found to be contemporaneous with significant, historic storm surges at the site modeled using SLOSH and the Best Track, post-1851 A.D. dataset. Using the historic portion of the record for calibration, paleohurricane deposits were identified by sand content and dated using radiocarbon-based age models. Marine-indicative foraminifera, some originating at least 5 km offshore, were present in several modern and ancient storm deposits. The presence and long-term preservation of offshore foraminifera suggest that this site and others like it may yield promising microfossil-based paleohurricane reconstructions in the future. Due to the sub-decadal (~ 7 year) resolution of the record and the site’s high susceptibility to hurricane-generated storm surges, the average, local frequency of recorded events, approximately 3.9 storms per century, is greater than that of previously published paleohurricane records from the region. The high incidence of recorded events permitted a time series of local hurricane frequency during the last five millennia to be constructed. Variability in the frequency of the largest storm layers was found to be greater than what would likely occur by chance alone, with intervals of both anomalously high and low storm frequency identified. However, the rate at which smaller layers were deposited was relatively constant over the last five millennia. This may suggest that significant variability in hurricane frequency has occurred only in the highest magnitude events. The frequency of high magnitude events peaked near 6 storms per century between 2800 and 2300 years ago. High magnitude events were relatively rare with about 0-3 storms per century occurring between 1900 to 1600 years ago and between 400 to 150 years ago. A marked decline in the number of large storm deposits, which began around 600 years ago, has persisted through present with below average frequency over the last 150 years when compared to the preceding five millennia.
  • Technical Report
    Stress, salt flux, and dynamics of a partially mixed estuary
    (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1998-08) Fredericks, Janet J. ; Trowbridge, John H. ; Geyer, W. Rockwell ; Williams, Albert J. ; Bowen, Melissa M. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D.
    A field study was performed in the lower Hudson River, a partially mixed estuary with a relatively simple geometry (Figure 1), between August and October of 1995. The objectives of the study were (1) to quantify and characterize the turbulent transport of momentum and salt, and (2) to relate the turbulent transport processes to the local and estuary-wide dynamics. The measurement program consisted of fixed and shipboard components. At a central site, a moored array of temperature-conductivity sensors and optical backscatter sensors (OBS), a bottom-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP), and a bottom-mounted array of acoustic travel-time current sensors (BASS), temperature-conductivity sensors, and OBS sensors resolved the vertical structure of velocity, salinity and turbidity and the near-bottom turbulence structure. Moored and bottom-mounted velocity, temperature, conductivity and pressure sensors at five secondary sites quantified the spatial and temporal variabilty of velocity, salinity and bottom pressure. Shipboard measurements with an ADCP and a conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) profiler, accompanied by an OBS sensor, resolved the spatial structure and tidal variability of velocity, salinity and turbidity along several cross-channel and along-channel transects. This report describes the measurements in detail. Section II describes the instrumentation, Section III describes the deployment and sampling schemes, Section IV describes the data processing, and Section V is a summary of plots of selected data. Section VI documents the data files and Sections VII and VII give acknowledgments and references.
  • Article
    1,050 years of hurricane strikes on Long Island in the Bahamas
    (American Geophysical Union, 2016-02-16) Wallace, Elizabeth J. ; Donnelly, Jeffrey P. ; van Hengstum, Peter J. ; Winkler, Tyler S. ; McKeon, Kelly ; MacDonald, Dana ; D'Entremont, Nicole ; Sullivan, Richard M. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Hawkes, Andrea D. ; Maio, Christopher V.
    Sedimentary records of past hurricane activity indicate centennial-scale periods over the past millennium with elevated hurricane activity. The search for the underlying mechanism behind these active hurricane periods is confounded by regional variations in their timing. Here, we present a new high resolution paleohurricane record from The Bahamas with a synthesis of published North Atlantic records over the past millennium. We reconstruct hurricane strikes over the past 1,050 years in sediment cores from a blue hole on Long Island in The Bahamas. Coarse-grained deposits in these cores date to the close passage of seven hurricanes over the historical interval. We find that the intensity and angle of approach of these historical storms plays an important role in inducing storm surge near the site. Our new record indicates four active hurricane periods on Long Island that conflict with published records on neighboring islands (Andros and Abaco Island). We demonstrate these three islands do not sample the same storms despite their proximity, and we compile these reconstructions together to create the first regional compilation of annually resolved paleohurricane records in The Bahamas. Integrating our Bahamian compilation with compiled records from the U.S. coastline indicates basin-wide increased storminess during the Medieval Warm Period. Afterward, the hurricane patterns in our Bahamian compilation match those reconstructed along the U.S. East Coast but not in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. This disconnect may result from shifts in local environmental conditions in the North Atlantic or shifts in hurricane populations from straight-moving to recurving storms over the past millennium.
  • Preprint
    Exploring typhoon variability over the mid-to-late Holocene : evidence of extreme coastal flooding from Kamikoshiki, Japan
    ( 2009-01) Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Donnelly, Jeffrey P. ; Okusu, Akiko
    Sediment cores from two coastal lakes located on the island of Kamikoshiki in southwestern Japan (Lake Namakoike and Lake Kaiike) provide evidence for the response of a backbarrier beach system to episodic coastal inundation over the last 6400 years. Subbottom seismic surveys exhibit acoustically laminated, parallel to subparallel seismic reflectors, intermittently truncated by erosional unconformities. Sediment cores collected from targeted depocenters in both lakes contain finely laminated organic mud interbedded with coarse grained units, with depths of coarse deposits concurrent with prominent seismic reflectors. The timing of the youngest deposit at Kamikoshiki correlates to the most recently documented breach in the barrier during a typhoon in 1951 AD. Assuming this modern deposit provides an analog for identifying past events, paleo typhoons may be reconstructed from layers exhibiting an increase in grain-size, a break in fine-scale stratigraphy, and elevated Sr concentrations. Periods of barrier breaching are concurrent with an increase in El Niño frequency, indicating that the El Niño/Southern Oscillation has potentially played a key role in governing typhoon variability during the mid-to-late Holocene. An inverse correlation is observed between tropical cyclone reconstructions from the western North Atlantic and the Kamikoshiki site, which may indicate an oscillating pattern in tropical cyclone activity between the western Northern Atlantic and the western North Pacific, or at least between the western Northern Atlantic and regions encompassing southern Japan. The two kamikaze typhoons which contributed to the failed Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 AD and 1281 AD occur during a period with more frequent marine-sourced deposition at the site, suggesting the events took place during a period of greater regional typhoon activity.
  • Article
    Historically unprecedented Northern Gulf of Mexico hurricane activity from 650 to 1250 CE
    (Nature Research, 2020-11-05) Rodysill, Jessica R. ; Donnelly, Jeffrey P. ; Sullivan, Richard M. ; Lane, D. Philip ; Toomey, Michael R. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Hawkes, Andrea D. ; MacDonald, Dana ; D'Entremont, Nicole ; McKeon, Kelly ; Wallace, Elizabeth J. ; van Hengstum, Peter J.
    Hurricane Michael (2018) was the first Category 5 storm on record to make landfall on the Florida panhandle since at least 1851 CE (Common Era), and it resulted in the loss of 59 lives and $25 billion in damages across the southeastern U.S. This event placed a spotlight on recent intense (exceeding Category 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) hurricane landfalls, prompting questions about the natural range in variability of hurricane activity that the instrumental record is too short to address. Of particular interest is determining whether the frequency of recent intense hurricane landfalls in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) is within or outside the natural range of intense hurricane activity prior to 1851 CE. In this study, we identify intense hurricane landfalls in northwest Florida during the past 2000 years based on coarse anomaly event detection from two coastal lacustrine sediment archives. We identified a historically unprecedented period of heightened storm activity common to four Florida panhandle localities from 650 to 1250 CE and a shift to a relatively quiescent storm climate in the GOM spanning the past six centuries. Our study provides long-term context for events like Hurricane Michael and suggests that the observational period 1851 CE to present may underrepresent the natural range in landfalling hurricane activity.
  • Article
    Tropical cyclone wind speed constraints from resultant storm surge deposition : a 2500 year reconstruction of hurricane activity from St. Marks, FL
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2013-08-22) Brandon, Christine M. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Lane, D. Philip ; Donnelly, Jeffrey P.
    Recent work suggests that the patterns of intense (≥category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale) hurricane strikes over the last few millennia might differ from that of overall hurricane activity during this period. Prior studies typically rely on assigning a threshold storm intensity required to produce a sedimentological overwash signal at a particular coastal site based on historical analogs. Here, we improve on this approach by presenting a new inverse-model technique that constrains the most likely wind speeds required to transport the maximum grain size within resultant storm deposits. As a case study, the technique is applied to event layers observed in sediments collected from a coastal sinkhole in northwestern Florida. We find that (1) simulated wind speeds for modern deposits are consistent with the intensities for historical hurricanes affecting the site, (2) all deposits throughout the ∼2500 year record are capable of being produced by hurricanes, and (3) a period of increased intense hurricane frequency is observed between ∼1700 and ∼600 years B.P. and decreased intense storm frequency is observed from ∼2500 to ∼1700 and ∼600 years B.P. to the present. This is consistent with prior reconstructions from nearby sites. Changes in the frequency of intense hurricane strikes may be related to the degree of penetration of the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Thesis
    Sediment deposition in the lower Hudson River estuary
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1999-09) Woodruff, Jonathan D.
    This study uses geophysical and sedimentological data collected from the Lower Hudson River estuary to identify the depositional response of the estuary to high river discharge events. Erosional and depositional environments in the estuary are identified through the use of side-scan sonar, bottom penetrating sonar and surficial sediment sampling. Sediment cores are used to document deposit thicknesses and to obtain the spatial distribution of estuarine deposits. Results show a high degree of spatial and temporal variability in sedimentation within the estuary. Two primary deposits are identified underneath the turbidity maximum for the estuary. Approximately 300,000 metric tons of sediment were deposited within these two deposits during May and June of 1998. This short-term accumulation underneath the turbidity maximum of the estuary can account for 30 to 98 percent of the estimated, river-borne sediment load supplied to the estuary during the 1997-1998 water year. Both the tidally produced stratigraphy observed in sediment cores and the spatial distribution of identified deposits, support the theory that sedimentation underneath the turbidity maximum of the estuary is primarily the results of a convergence in bottom water flow, caused by the formation of a salinity front during ebb tide.
  • Thesis
    Tropical cyclones within the sedimentary record : analyzing overwash deposition from event to millennial timescales
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2009-02) Woodruff, Jonathan D.
    Tropical cyclone activity over the last 5000 years is investigated using overwash sediments from coastal lagoons on the islands of Vieques, Puerto Rico and Koshikijima, Japan. A simple sediment transport model can reproduce the landward fining deposits observed at Vieques, and reveals that although the record exhibits centennial-tomillennial changes in hurricane overwash frequency, the magnitude of these flooding events has remained relatively constant. Stochastic simulations of hurricane overwash show that breaks in activity at Vieques are extremely long and unlikely to occur under the current hurricane climatology and the present barrier morphology. Periods of less frequent hurricane deposition at Vieques are contemporaneous with intervals of increased El Niño occurrences and reduced precipitation in West Africa, suggesting a dominant influence by these two climatic phenomena. Hiatuses in overwash activity between 3600- to-2500 and 1000-500 years ago are longer than what is generated by overwash simulations under a constant El Niño-like state, indicating that mechanisms in addition to variability in the El Niño/Southern Oscillation are required to completely produce the overwash variability at Vieques. Periods of low overwash activity at Vieques are concurrent with increased overwash activity at Kamikoshiki and may indicate a correspondence between tropical cyclone activity in the western Northern Atlantic and the western North Pacific.
  • Article
    Salt marsh response to inlet switch‐induced increases in tidal inundation
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-12-22) Yellen, Brian ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Baranes, Hannah E. ; Engelhart, Simon E. ; Geywer, W. Rockwell ; Randall, Noa ; Griswold, Frances R.
    There is widespread concern that rapidly rising sea levels may drown salt marshes by exceeding the rate at which these important ecosystems can build elevation. A significant fraction of marshes reside within backbarrier estuaries, yet little attention has been paid to how changes in inlet geometry influences estuarine tides and marshes. In 1898, a coastal storm eroded a new inlet through the barrier beach that fronts the North‐South Rivers Estuary in Massachusetts, USA. The new inlet shortened the North River by 5.6 km and lengthened the South River channel by the same amount. Modern measurements of tidal attenuation suggest that channel shortening abruptly increased mean high tide along the North River by at least 30 cm. Foraminifera communities within North River marsh sediments indicated an environmental change from infrequent to frequent inundation at the time of the 1898 switch in inlet location, which supports this hypothesis. Increased mineral sediment deposition after the inlet switch played a dominant role in allowing marshes along the North River channel to adjust to greater inundation. Following the inlet switch, sediment accreted in North River marshes at 2–5 times the rate of sea level rise (SLR). The North River channel widened by an average of 18% relative to pre‐1898 conditions to accommodate the increased tidal prism. The role of mineral sediment accretion in making this marsh resilient to an abrupt increase in inundation depth highlights the importance of maintaining adequate sediment supplies in coastal regions as SLR accelerates.