Bed Morphology, Sediment Transport, and Flow Structure at the Outlet of Lake Huron and in the Upper St. Clair River
Journal of Great Lakes Research
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An integrated multibeam echo sounder and acoustic Doppler current profiler field survey was conducted in July 2008 to investigate the morphodynamics of the St. Clair River at the outlet of Lake Huron. The principal morphological features of the upper St. Clair River included flow-transverse bedforms that appear weakly mobile, erosive bedforms in cohesive muds, thin non-cohesive veneers of weakly mobile sediment that cover an underlying cohesive (till or glacio-lacustrine) surface, and vegetation that covers the bed. The flow was characterized by acceleration as the banks constrict from Lake Huron into the St. Clair River, an approximately 1500-m long region of flow separation downstream from the Blue Water Bridge, and secondary flow connected to: i) channel curvature; ii) forcing of the flow by local bed topography, and iii) flow wakes in the lee side of ship wrecks. Nearshore, sand-sized, sediment from Lake Huron was capable of being transported into, and principally along, the banks of the upper St. Clair River by the measured flow. A comparison of bathymetric surveys conducted in 2007 and 2008 identifies that the gravel bed does undergo slow downstream movement, but that this movement does not appear to be generated by the mean flow, and could possibly be caused by ship-propeller-induced turbulence. The study results suggest that the measured mean flow and dredging within the channel have not produced major scour of the upper St. Clair River and that the recent fall in the level of Lake Huron is unlikely to have been caused by these mechanisms.