First Advisor

Curt Peterson

Date of Publication

Winter 3-17-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Sedimentation and deposition -- Columbia River -- History, Estuarine sediments -- Columbia River -- History -- Mathematical models, Shorelines -- Columbia River -- History -- Mathematical models



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 90 pages)


Studies of episodic shoreline accretion of the Columbia River Littoral Cell (CRLC) have been ongoing since 1964. In this study, the sediment volumes in the late Holocene barriers and beach plains are compiled and formatted in GIS compatible databases for the four sub-cells of the CRLC.

Initial evaluation involved the creation of a geodatabase of 160 dated retreat scarp positions, that were identified on across-shore GPR and borehole profiles. Ten primary timelines were identified throughout the CRLC (0-4700 ybp) and those were used to develop polygon cells. Elevation, distance measurements, and position information were all linked to the polygon through a centroid location within the geodatabase.

Once the geodatabase was completed, data was imported into MSAccessTM to create a relational database that would allow for examination of the littoral cell in its entirety or of the individual sub-cells. Within the database, sediment volumes, ages, accretion rates, sediment thicknesses, and timeline relationships were calculated and recorded.

Using the database, the accretion history of the Columbia River Littoral Cell was evaluated and this examination illustrated the complexity of the system. Northern littoral transport was shown to be an important factor in the development of the littoral cell as a whole. Total sediment volume in the littoral cell was calculated to be 1.74 x 109 m3, with a mean accretion rate of 1.90 x 104 m3/yr, which is significantly less than some previous studies. This is due to a more detailed analysis of the beach and foredune facies themselves. This is likely the result of the higher precision of beach and foredune surface information using LiDAR.

The database shows that the developmental history of the CRLC is dependent on temporal and spatial constraints that can be coupled with reverse modeling to predict shoreline erosion trends from impounded river sediments and potential global sea level rise. The North Beaches and Grayland Plains sub-cells have the greatest potential for future erosion; followed by the Clatsop Plains sub-cell.


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