Dominant wave energy and sediment movement on intertidal beaches in Freshwater Bay, Washington, U.S.A.
Freshwater Bay (FWB), Washington did not undergo significant erosion of its shoreline after the construction of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams, unlike the shoreline east of Angeles Point (the Elwha River’s lobate delta). In this paper I compare the wave energy density in the western and eastern ends of the Strait of Juan de Fuca with the wave energy density at the Elwha River delta. This indicates seasonal high- and low-energy regimes in the energy density data. I group multi-year surveys of four cross-shore transects in FWB along this seasonal divide and search for seasonal trends in profile on the foreshore. After documenting changes in elevation at specific datums on the foreshore, I compare digital images of one datum to determine the particle sizes that are transported during deposition and scour events on this section of the FWB foreshore. Repeat surveys of four cross-shore transects over a five-year period indicate a highly mobile slope break between the upper foreshore and the low-tide delta. Post-2011, profiles in eastern FWB record deposition in the landward portion of the low-tide terrace and also in the upper intertidal. Western FWB experiences transient deposition on the low-tide terrace and high intra-annual variability in beach profile. Profile elevation at the slope break in western FWB can vary 0.5 m in the course of weeks. Changes in surface sediment that range from sand to cobble are co-incident with these changes in elevation. High sediment mobility and profile variation are inconsistent with shoreline stability and decreased sediment from the presumed source on the Elwha River delta.