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Field and theoretical investigation of sediment mass fluxes on an accretional coastal mudflat
- Shi, Benwei, Wang, Ya Ping, Du, Xiaoqin, Cooper, James R., Li, Peng, Li, Ming Liang, Yang, Yang
- Journal of hydro-environment research 2016 v.11 pp. 75-90
- advection, coasts, environmental factors, hydrodynamics, littoral zone, pollutants, salinity, sediments, suspended sediment, temperature, tides, wind, China
- Variations in suspended sediment concentrations (SSCs) in tidal mudflats are an important influence on the ecological environment, morphological evolution, and pollutant transport. To better understand how the behavior of suspended sediment influences small-scale variations in SSC in the water column, we took simultaneous measurements of water depth, wave height, current velocity, SSC profiles, and intratidal bed-level changes during a series of continuous tidal cycles on a highly turbid macrotidal mudflat, part of a larger accretional coastal mudflat on the Jiangsu Coast, China. We estimated the relative contributions of erosion, deposition, and advection processes to variations in SSC from the field data. We used an empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis to examine the influence of hydrodynamic factors (water depth, wind, wave height, and current velocity) and environmental factors (salinity and temperature) on SSC variability, to determine why the contributions of the three processes (erosion, deposition, and advection) to the variability in SSC differed. Our results showed that on average, advection flux was about an order of magnitude higher than erosion–deposition flux of corresponding tide, and that advection, driven by the tidal current velocity, wind, and associated alongshore transport, accounted for most of the variability in SSC at the study site over a complete tidal cycle. An abundant sediment supply and limited resuspension of the bed sediments meant that advection was the main transport process. Our results also demonstrate that detailed analyses of transport processes provide useful information on the sources and fates of suspended sediments, and support the interpretation of morphological changes in accretional intertidal mudflats.