U.S. Geological Survey

Menlo Park’s eastern boundary is in the middle of San Francisco Bay, a dynamic estuary where seawater entering through the Golden Gate mixes with freshwater from the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers and numerous local streams. Fringing the Bay are tidal marshes that play an important role in bay ecosystems.

But is Menlo shrinking or expanding? A documentary produced by the Menlo Park-based U.S. Geological Survey, Turbid Bay: Sediment in Motion , describes ongoing research into the transport of sediment at the margins of San Francisco Bay.

The film, which can be viewed online, follows USGS Mendenhall Research Fellow Lissa MacVean and her USGS advisor Jessie Lacy, as they gather information for a study that provides an important piece of a large ecosystem puzzle. The study begins to address the question of how sediment is supplied to marshes by looking in detail at the reasons Bay sediment moves from areas that are always inundated, or subtidal, into intertidal mudflats that are alternately wet and dry.

“Some wetlands-restoration projects actually deposit sediment to bring the marsh plain elevation up to the appropriate level for plants,” said Lacy, a research oceanographer. “But it’s considered a much better option to rely on natural processes because that is a sustainable restoration. And relying on natural processes means assuming that the turbid waters of the Bay will deposit enough sediment in the marsh to restore it.”

These transport processes are critical to the mudflats and marshes that ringed the Bay historically. More than 80 percent of the tidal marshes that existed before the 1850s and the Gold Rush have been lost because of human activities, which include diking, draining, and filling.

The USGS provides science support to many of the local, state, and Federal efforts to improve the health of the Bay by restoring tens of thousands of acres of commercial salt ponds, diked agricultural acreage, and other lands to functioning tidal marsh and shallow ponds.

Photo by Jessie Lacy shows (left to right) Pete Dal Ferro, Jenny White, and Joanne Thede Ferreira deploying a research platform in San Francisco Bay.

{ Be the first to comment }

Pick up free gift wrap at U.S. Geological Survey offices

Received this information via a USGS press release and we’d say our Federal government is showing signs of innovation! “Holiday shoppers can pick up free gift wrap from the U.S. Geological Survey and California Geological Survey’s Maps and Publications Sales Office and enjoy a traveling exhibit about topographic mapping over the past 125 years. To […]

Click to read more →

Disaster Preparedness Day at USGS in Menlo Park

There’s a free gift waiting for you if you are one of the first 500 families who stop by the 6th annual San Mateo County Disaster Preparedness Day in the U.S. Geological Survey’s Menlo Park campus Saturday (9/18) from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. You’ll also get information to better prepare yourself to survive on […]

Click to read more →

USGS scientists present and discuss new video on desert tortoise survival on Thursday, 5/27

A new U.S. Geological Survey documentary video exploring the world of the endangered Mojave Desert tortoise will be introduced and discussed by USGS scientists Todd Esque and Ken Nussear during a public showing in Menlo Park on Thursday, May 27 at 7:00 pm in Building 3 Auditorium, 2nd-floor, 345 Middlefield. Though the desert tortoise has […]

Click to read more →

How to become a Menlo citizen observer

You can learn how to participate in the  volunteer network that is providing scientists with needed information about changes in seasonal patterns occurring in plant and animal life at a lecture tonight (3/25) given by Jake Weltzin, Executive Director of the USA National Phenology Network. Weltzin’s organization is bringing together citizen observers, scientists, natural resource […]

Click to read more →

Take a break from holiday stress – explore planet Mercury courtesy of the USGS

While many (most?) Menlo residents are frantically preparing for the coming holiday festivities (and failing to make full stops at intersections), the scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (a Menlo mainstay) are sharing their excitement about showing off the 55% of the planet Mercury never before seen. According to  just-released news from USGS: “When the […]

Click to read more →