Abstract

The lower main channel of the Fraser River, British Columbia, is a sand-bed, salt-wedge estuary in which variations in velocity, discharge, and bedform characteristics are contolled by river discharge and the tides. Bed-material composition remains consistent over the discharge season and in the long term. Changes in bedform height and length follow but lag behind seasonal fluctuations in river discharge. Migration rates of bedforms respond more directly to river discharge and tidal fall than do height and length. Bedform characteristics were utilized to estimate bedload transport in the estuary, and a strong, direct, but very sensitive relationship was found between bed load and river discharge. Annual bedload transport in the estuary is estimated to be of the order of 0.35 Mt in 1986. Bedload transport in the estuary appears to be higher than in reaches upstream, possibly because of an increase in sediment movement along the bed to compensate for a reduction in suspended bed-material load produced by tidal slack water and the salt wedge.

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