Sediment pumping by tidal asymmetry in a partially mixed estuary
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Observations collected at two laterally adjacent locations are used to examine the processes driving sediment transport in the partially mixed York River Estuary. Estimates of sediment flux are decomposed into advective and pumping components, to evaluate the importance of tidal asymmetries in turbulent mixing. At the instrumented location in the estuarine channel, a strong asymmetry in internal mixing due to tidal straining is documented, with higher values of eddy viscosity occurring during the less-stratified flood tide. As a result of this asymmetry, more sediment is resuspended during the flood phase of the tide resulting in up-estuary pumping of sediment despite a net down-estuary advective flux. At the instrumented location on the adjacent shoal, where no pronounced tidal asymmetry in internal mixing was found, both the pumping flux and advective flux were directed down-estuary. The down-estuary pumping of sediment on the shoal appears to be driven by asymmetries in bed stress. The impact of tidal asymmetries in bed stress at the channel location was negated because the amount of sediment available for resuspension was limited. As a result, the pumping flux was dominated by the overlying asymmetries in internal mixing. The asymmetries in stratification appear to exert an important control on the vertical distribution of sediment by both impacting the eddy diffusivity as well as the fall velocity. During the more turbulent flood tide, the fall velocities are smaller suggesting the Kolmogorov microscale is setting the upper bound on floc diameter.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2007. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research 112 (2007): C07028, doi:10.1029/2006JC003784.
Suggested CitationJournal of Geophysical Research 112 (2007): C07028
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