• Tidal Estuary Morphodynamics of the Knik Arm

      Lewis, Steven E. (University of Alaska Anchorage, 2015-05-01)
      A three-dimensional unsteady flow numerical model was developed to study sediment transport due to tidal circulation within Knik Arm, a dynamic well mixed macro-tidal sub-estuary of Cook Inlet in Alaska. The model was developed to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that are creating the Point MacKenzie Shoal, located approximately 4 kilometers south of Port MacKenzie. Hydrodynamic conditions within the estuary are very complex in that ebb-and-flood tides, freshwater mixing, and wetting/drying of tidal mud flats significantly effects sediment transport within the estuary. A Mike 3 numerical model was applied to simulate the sediment transport within the estuary under the action of tidal currents in the vicinity of the shoal. The computational domain of this simulation includes four sediment laden freshwater sources; Matanuska, Knik, Susitna, and Twenty-Mile Rivers as well as an open ocean boundary. The spatial resolution of the triangulated flexible mesh model is 0.00045 degrees2 with a coupled fine resolution model of 0.000045 degrees2. The results of the numerical model are in agreement with previously collected field data. Simulation results indicate the shoal formation is the result of turbid tidal flows and deposition is occurring naturally.