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Sedimentation And Hydrodynamics of Whitianga Estuary

Whitianga Estuary is a bayhead barrier type estuary located on the east of the Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand. The catchment has undergone many land-use changes since pre-European settlement. In some areas of the catchment land-use has changed from native forest to grasslands to forestry and back to pasture. These changes in catchment land-use all contribute to increased sedimentation into the estuary. Development of the estuary itself has also occurred in recent times. Much growth has been focussed around the estuary due to Whitianga town-ship having a large boating community, and includes a 170 berth marina and wharf situated at the tidal inlet entrance to the estuary. These, and the extensive canal development engineering works can have substantial impacts on the sedimentation regime, and may modify tidal circulation, flushing, and sediment deposition within the estuary. The principle aim of this research is to assess hydrodynamics and sedimentation of the estuary for future management and development purposes, and also to model different scenarios in order to determine the most cost effective, and least obtrusive design for a proposed boat-ramp and approach channel near the marina. To determine sedimentation rates, sediment cores from four locations were collected to depths of 1 m. Coring locations were chosen based on preliminary model run results, selecting areas that appeared to be long-term sediment sinks of a stable nature. Cores were divided into 10 mm sections and prepared for 210Pb dating and heavy metal analysis, to make an assessment of the vertical sedimentation rates. Recent sedimentation rates were found to be as high as 9 mm/yr post-1950s and past sedimentation rates as high as 30 mm/yr pre-1950s. The use of heavy metal analysis for dating proved difficult as the background levels of the conservative elements used to normalise results varied, making the geochemical analysis approach inappropriate. As bathymetry is one of the most important aspects of modelling, a large amount of surveying was undertaken for this study. LiDAR, singlebeam data, and recent rectified aerial photographs were interpreted for the creation of a bathymetric grid file to be used for hydrodynamic modelling of the estuary. The 3DD numerical model was used to determine tidal flows and current velocities. From this initial hydrodynamic model a particle-tracking model was created to determine sediment transport pathways within the estuary. From the initial 20 m model it was then possible to create a number of nested model grids for the purpose of determining the best practice scenario for the creation of a proposed boat ramp and associated approach channel near the harbour entrance. Hydrodynamic results suggest that residual circulation in Whitianga Estuary is nearly in balance, with a low ebb tidal domination present. Particle tracking results suggest that sediment entrained and carried into and within the estuary will accumulate on the intertidal flats. Sediment transport modelling indicates that the impact of a proposed boat-ramp will result in sedimentation of the dredged approach channel due to reductions in residual and tidal velocities.
Type of thesis
Reeve, G. M. . (2008). Sedimentation And Hydrodynamics of Whitianga Estuary (Thesis, Master of Science (MSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2344
The University of Waikato
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