Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Moss Landing Marine Laboratories


This 2009 study focuses on identifying sources for littoral sediment, littoral transport trends, and how both vary from summer to winter conditions. Littoral transport in central Monterey Bay were determined using grain size, heavy mineral petrography, and alongshore transport estimates generated by changes in swell direction. The amount of heavy minerals along the coast varies seasonally, and the winter erosion of Aromas sandstone paleo-dunes as well as the summer progradation of offshore bar sediments are possible contributors to coastal mineral assemblages. Heavy mineral deposition within the study area supports the conclusion that there are two dominant littoral cells in Monterey Bay isolated by the Monterey Submarine Canyon: a year-round "Pajaro" cell that transports sediment southward along the coast from the Pajaro River Mouth, and a seasonal "Salinas" cell that transports sediment northward from the Salinas River Mouth during summer W-SW swell conditions. Similarities in beach composition across the canyon is thought to be generated by a combination of seasonal mixing of fluvial material from the Pajaro and Salinas watersheds, and the erosion of the Aromas Sandstones.


Thesis (M.S.) Division of Science and Environmental Policy. Moss Landing Marine Laboratories