Factors controlling the field settling velocity of cohesive sediment in estuaries

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It has long been recognized that the suspended sediment concentration (SSC) is one of the major determinants for the flocculation of cohesive particles into sediment flocs in estuaries. It is furthermore well known that the turbulent shear of the water significantly influences the flocculation process and the equilibrium settling velocity of flocculated sediment in a turbulent flow. A vast number of authors have reported algorithms relating the median settling velocity (W-50) to suspended sediment concentration. However, only a few studies have dealt with the impact of the turbulent shear (in this paper expressed as the root mean square [rms] velocity gradient, [G]) in the water on the W-50 in situ. There is a strong need to establish algorithms based on in situ measurements describing the dual impact of both SSC and G on the flocculation process, and hence, W-50. The present paper addresses this topic. Field settling velocities of suspended cohesive sediment have been measured in micro-, meso-, and macro-tidal estuaries. Regression analyses between the W-50, SSC and G are presented. It is shown that by including both G and SSC in the regression analyses, a significant increase in the correlation of the description of W-50 and the controlling parameters from each area can be obtained. A generic algorithm describing the data from all the investigated areas is suggested. It works well within specific tidal areas but fails to give a generic description of the field settling velocity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010

ID: 18480328