Flow around a dredge spoil island in a shallow estuary during peak tidal currents

Christiansen, David Aaron
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A vessel-mounted ADCP study focusing on channel-scale flow patterns in Galveston Bay near the Houston Shipping Channel and Mid-Bay Island is described. Winds of 5-7 m/s at 215-230◦ from N were present during data collection. For both peak ebb and flood conditions, the tidal circulation forced flow in a direction opposing the wind, perhaps due to a large-scale flow divergence forced by Mid-Bay Island. The strongest such currents were measured closest the island. During peak flood flow, the shape of the along-channel velocity profile for the open water upwind of the channel at Mid-Bay Island indicated uniform flow, and the salinity profile indicated a well-mixed water column. The near-island along- channel velocity profile showed a near-linear trend, and the salinity profile indicated a stratified water column. This suggested that the stratification had some effect the velocity profile shape, but further research is needed to better quantify this effect. During peak ebb flow, the near-island along-channel velocities were highly variable with respect to the mean velocity, indicating an area of active turbulence. Salinity profiles collected in the open water and near-island both showed stratification, something that was not seen during flood conditions. Differences in observations between flood and ebb flows can possibly be attributed to the survey location with respect to the chain of dredge spoil islands. During flood flows Mid-Bay Island is the first of the islands, and the flows surrounding the island may part of a developing horizontal boundary layer. During ebb flows the island is last in the chain relative to the direction of flow, and therefore the surrounding flows are well back from the leading edge of a horizontal boundary layer.