Oceanic Dispersal and Accumulation of River Sediment

  1. Charles A. Nittrouer,
  2. James A. Austin,
  3. Michael E. Field,
  4. Joseph H. Kravitz,
  5. James P. M. Syvitski and
  6. Patricia L. Wiberg
  1. Christopher K. Sommerfield1,
  2. Andrea S. Ogston2,
  3. Beth L. Mullenbach3,
  4. David E. Drake4,
  5. Clark R. Alexander5,
  6. Charles A. Nittrouer2,
  7. Jeffry C. Borgeld6,
  8. Robert A. Wheatcroft7 and
  9. Elana L. Leithold8

Published Online: 25 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304398.ch4

Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy

Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy

How to Cite

Sommerfield, C. K., Ogston, A. S., Mullenbach, B. L., Drake, D. E., Alexander, C. R., Nittrouer, C. A., Borgeld, J. C., Wheatcroft, R. A. and Leithold, E. L. (2007) Oceanic Dispersal and Accumulation of River Sediment, in Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy (eds C. A. Nittrouer, J. A. Austin, M. E. Field, J. H. Kravitz, J. P. M. Syvitski and P. L. Wiberg), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304398.ch4

Author Information

  1. 1

    College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE 19958, USA

  2. 2

    School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Box 357940, Seattle, WA 98195, USA

  3. 3

    Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University, TAMU-3146, College Station, TX 77843, USA

  4. 4

    Drake Marine Consulting, Ben Lomond, CA 95005, USA

  5. 5

    Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, 10 Ocean Circle, Savannah, GA 31411, USA

  6. 6

    Department of Oceanography, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA 95521, USA

  7. 7

    College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA

  8. 8

    Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 17 JUL 2007

Book Series:

  1. Special Publication Number 37 of the International Association of Sedimentologists

Book Series Editors:

  1. Ian Jarvis

Series Editor Information

  1. School of Earth Sciences & Geography, Centre for Earth & Environmental Science Research, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2EE, UK

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405169349

Online ISBN: 9781444304398



  • oceanic dispersal and river sediment accumulation;
  • margin sediment dispersal systems - holocene perspective;
  • quantifying sedimentary processes;
  • northern California margin;
  • sediment production and coastal delivery - tectonics and sediment yield;
  • floods, land use and sediment delivery;
  • sediment transport and accumulation;
  • dynamic trapping mechanisms;
  • centennial to millennial accumulation


The sedimentology and stratigraphy of river-fed continental margins reflect a diverse range of tectonic, climatic and hydrodynamic conditions that moderate the supply, transport and accumulation of terrigenous sediment in the coastal ocean. This paper describes a study of the modern and late Holocene northern California shelf and slope. The aim is to elucidate fundamental processes of land-to-ocean sediment dispersal and accumulation relevant to active margins worldwide. Annually, northern California rivers deliver a total of 30 - 40 × 106 tons of suspended sediment to the coast, nearly 70% of which bypasses the shelf in association with oceanic storms and major floods. Off-shelf export is highly time dependent, and is maximal when periods of peak river discharge and across-shelf flow coincide. Sediment not exported is sequestered on the shelf through dynamic trapping mechanisms in the bottom-boundary layer, as well as by static conditions related to tectonically produced topography. Significantly, interactions between shelf bathymetry and near bottom flows influence patterns and rates of strata formation on a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. The shelf displays a rich sedimentary record that archives signatures related to Holocene transgression, climatic variations in continental runoff, and land-use change during historical times.