Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

David F. Naar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chuanmin Hu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stanley D. Locker, Ph.D.


West Florida Shelf, GIS, CARIS Hips and Sips, Sediment transport


Changes in sediment morphology on the West Florida Shelf is investigated over a 14-year time period using multibeam bathymetry and backscatter in water depths between 10 m and 20 m, off the coast of Indian Rocks Beach, Pinellas County, Florida. Bathymetric surveys collected in 2002 (Kongsberg EM 3000 at 300 kHz) and 2016 (Reson 7125 at 400 kHz) were processed using CARIS Hips and Sips to create bathymetric maps and backscatter images. These data were then interpreted and compared in order to test hypotheses and answer questions related to sediment migration and sediment volume change.

The following questions prompted this study:

A. How mobile is the sediment on the limestone?

B. What sedimentary changes occurred following the 2002 and 2003 deployments of mines for an Office of Naval Research project?

C. How much sediment was removed during dredging and how closely does it compare to the Army Corps of Engineers’ reported estimate during the beach renourishment of Sand Key in 2012?

In order to answer these questions, hypotheses were proposed:

Hypothesis A:

The sediment ridges in the study site have not migrated significantly over the limestone hard bottom during the 14-year time period (Hafen, 2001; Edwards et al. 2003).

Hypothesis B:

There is no change in sediment volume where the mine-like object were placed and removed after the ONR mine burial experiment (Wolfson 2005 Wolfson et al. 2007).

Hypothesis C:

Changes in sediment volume between 2002 and 2016 will match the amount estimated by the Army Core of Engineers who dredged the area.

Results show that the sediment ridges in the study area had some migration over the limestone hard bottom during the 14-year time period. The results also found that there was a sediment volume change where mine-like objects were placed and removed during the Office of Naval Research mine burial experiment because of a dredging operation in 2012 that dredged sediment from the experimental area. Specific areas investigated that surround the dredging area showed significant loss of sediment, with the change in hydrodynamics from dredging influencing this sediment loss. The volume of sediment removed from the aforementioned dredging cut was found to be within 16% of that estimated in the Army Corps of Engineers report prior to the dredging.

Geologic interpretations of the backscatter images interpreted strong backscatter returns as limestone, mid strength returns as coarse shell hash and weak returns as fine to medium-grained sediments. The weak returns were found primarily on the sediment ridges. The dredging cut showed stronger returns than the surrounding ridge, indicating that underlying coarse sediments were most likely compacted and composed of shell hash.

Using satellite remote sensing as a way to gather continual repeat coverage at high resolution (2 m) data to determine absolute depth in these water depths is investigated and preliminary results suggest that processed 250 m pixel MERIS data will give a similar depth range as multibeam bathymetry. The higher-resolution 0.5 m pixel raw WorldView 2 data shows NW-SE trending structure, suggesting the seafloor morphology will be more visible.

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