Sediment transport and deposition on a river-dominated tidal flat : an idealized model study
Geyer, W. Rockwell
Sherwood, Christopher R.
Ralston, David K.
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A 3-D hydrodynamic model is used to investigate how different size classes of river-derived sediment are transported, exported and trapped on an idealized, river-dominated tidal flat. The model is composed of a river channel flanked by sloping tidal flats, a configuration motivated by the intertidal region of the Skagit River mouth in Washington State, United States. It is forced by mixed tides and a pulse of freshwater and sediment with various settling velocities. In this system, the river not only influences stratification but also contributes a significant cross-shore transport. As a result, the bottom stress is strongly ebb-dominated in the channel because of the seaward advance of strong river flow as the tidal flats drain during ebbs. Sediment deposition patterns and mass budgets are sensitive to settling velocity. The lateral sediment spreading scales with an advective distance (settling time multiplied by lateral flow speed), thereby confining the fast settling sediment classes in the channel. Residual sediment transport is landward on the flats, because of settling lag, but is strongly seaward in the channel. The seaward transport mainly occurs during big ebbs and is controlled by a length scale ratio Ld/XWL, where Ld is a cross-shore advective distance (settling time multiplied by river outlet velocity), and XWL is the immersed cross-shore length of the intertidal zone. Sediment trapping requires Ld/XWL < 1, leading to more trapping for the faster settling classes. Sensitivity studies show that including stratification and reducing tidal range both favor sediment trapping, whereas varying channel geometries and asymmetry of tides has relatively small impacts. Implications of the modeling results on the south Skagit intertidal region are discussed.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2010. 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 115 (2010): C10040, doi:10.1029/2010JC006248.
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