Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


Science & Environmental Policy


he Elkhorn Slough is a narrow, tidal embayment at the mouth of the Monterey Canyon in Central California. The Elkhorn Slough Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses about 1400 acres on the south and east sides of the slough. Wide ranges of habitats are represented, from grasslands and oak woodlands to saltmarsh, tidal mudflats, and open water. This diversity of habitats is home to over 400 species of invertebrates, 80 species of fish, and 260 species of birds. In 1946 the shoreline dune along the Sloughs western edge was breached to provide permanent ocean access for the Moss Landing Harbor. Since the breach of the western dune tidal currents have increased, widening and deepening the main channel of the slough. Projects to minimize the effects of increased tidal influences have been proposed but are associated with great monetary costs and ecological unknowns. Any attempts to slow the currents may have irreversible effects on the ecology. A bathymetric survey of the slough designed to determine the degree that erosion is changing the slough channel was conducted for this project. By comparing current channel dimensions with data collected in 1993, this study shows that the Elkhorn Slough has lost 4.66x100,000m³ of sediment from the main tidal channel between the mouth of the slough and Kirby Park. Channel depths increased an average of 0.52 meters with the greatest change occurring at the slough mouth and at Seal Bend with a increases of 24% and 30% respectively. The channel volume increased overall by 15% with the greatest changes at the slough mouth and Seal bend with increases of 26% and 19% respectively.


Capstone Project (B.S.) Earth Systems Science & Policy Institute