Abstract

Side-scan sonar records taken during the recent Coastal Ocean Dynamics Experiment (CODE) show elongate, shore-normal rippled depressions of low relief on the inner continental shelf off central California between Bodega Bay and Point Arena. These features extend up to 2 km from the coast into water depths of up to 65 m. The proposed mechanism for their generation is storm-generated bottom currents associated with coastal downwelling during the late fall and winter which scour the surficial fine-sand sediment and expose the coarser-sand substrate in the depressions. The zones of most intense erosion and the irregular spacing of the features may be controlled by submerged rock ledges and other prominent coastal features. The large straight-crested ripples within the depressions (heights to 40 cm; wavelengths to 1.7 m) are probably formed by large-amplitude, long-period surface waves generated by winter storms.

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