Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 167–178 | Cite as

Sediment transport processes in the Pearl River Estuary as revealed by grain-size end-member modeling and sediment trend analysis

Original
  • 192 Downloads

Abstract

The analysis of grain-size distribution enables us to decipher sediment transport processes and understand the causal relations between dynamic processes and grain-size distributions. In the present study, grain sizes were measured from surface sediments collected in the Pearl River Estuary and its adjacent coastal areas. End-member modeling analysis attempts to unmix the grain sizes into geologically meaningful populations. Six grain-size end-members were identified. Their dominant modes are 0 Φ, 1.5 Φ, 2.75 Φ, 4.5 Φ, 7 Φ, and 8 Φ, corresponding to coarse sand, medium sand, fine sand, very coarse silt, silt, and clay, respectively. The spatial distributions of the six end-members are influenced by sediment transport and depositional processes. The two coarsest end-members (coarse sand and medium sand) may reflect relict sediments deposited during the last glacial period. The fine sand end-member would be difficult to transport under fair weather conditions, and likely indicates storm deposits. The three remaining fine-grained end-members (very coarse silt, silt, and clay) are recognized as suspended particles transported by saltwater intrusion via the flood tidal current, the Guangdong Coastal Current, and riverine outflow. The grain-size trend analysis shows distinct transport patterns for the three fine-grained end-members. The landward transport of the very coarse silt end-member occurs in the eastern part of the estuary, the seaward transport of the silt end-member occurs in the western part, and the east–west transport of the clay end-member occurs in the coastal areas. The results show that grain-size end-member modeling analysis in combination with sediment trend analysis help to better understand sediment transport patterns and the associated transport mechanisms.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the crew on the marine survey cruise in the Pearl River Estuary for their assistance with sample collection. We acknowledge two anonymous reviewers as well as the editors for constructive comments and suggestions that considerably improved this article. This work is supported by the Chinese Special Survey of Marine Geology (DD20160140, DD20160138).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest with third parties.

Supplementary material

367_2017_518_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (425 kb)
Online Resource 1 (PDF 424 kb)
367_2017_518_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (344 kb)
Online Resource 2 (PDF 343 kb)

References

  1. Asselman NEM (1999) Grain size trends used to assess the effective discharge for floodplain sedimentation, river Waal, The Netherlands. J Sediment Res 69:51–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blott SJ, Pye K (2001) GRADISTAT: a grain size distribution and statistics package for the analysis of unconsolidated sediments. Earth Surf Process Landf 26:1237–1248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen G, Yi L, Chen S, Huang H, Liu Y, Xu Y, Cao J (2013) Partitioning of grain-size components of estuarine sediments and implications for sediment transport in southwestern Laizhou Bay, China. Chinese J Oceanol Limnol 31:895–906CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen Z, Pan J, Jiang Y (2016) Role of pulsed winds on detachment of low-salinity water from the Pearl River plume: upwelling and mixing processes. J Geophys Res Oceans 121:2769–2788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chu PC, Wang G (2003) Seasonal variability of thermohaline front in the central South China Sea. Journal of Oceanography 59:65–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cooper B, McLaren P (2007) An application of sediment trend analysis to Carmarthen Bay, Bristol Channel. In: Balson PS, Collins MB (eds) coastal and shelf sediment transport. Geol Soc Lond Spec Publ 274:117–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dietze E, Hartmann K, Diekmann B, IJmker J, Lehmkuhl F, Opitz S, Stauch G, Wünnemann B, Borchers A (2012) An end-member algorithm for deciphering modern detrital processes from lake sediments of lake Donggi Cona, NE Tibetan plateau, China. Sediment Geol 243-244:169–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dietze E, Wünnemann B, Hartmann K, Diekmann B, Jin H, Stauch G, Yang S, Lehmkuhl F (2013) Early to mid-Holocene lake high-stand sediments at lake Donggi Cona, northeastern Tibetan plateau, China. Quat Res 79:325–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dietze E, Maussion F, Ahlborn M, Diekmann B, Hartmann K, Henkel K, Kasper T, Lockot G, Opitz S, Haberzettl T (2014) Sediment transport processes across the Tibetan plateau inferred from robust grain-size end members in lake sediments. Clim Past 10:91–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ding Y, Sikka DR (2006) Synoptic systems and weather. In: Wang B (ed) The Asian monsoon. Praxis, Chichester, pp 131–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dong LX, Su JL, Wong LA, Cao ZY, Chen JC (2004) Seasonal variation and dynamics of the Pearl River plume. Cont Shelf Res 24:1761–1777CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dong LX, Su J, Li Y, Xia X, Guan W (2006) Physical processes and sediment dynamics in the Pearl River. In: Wolanski E (ed) The environment in Asia Pacific harbours. Springer, Netherlands, pp 127–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fang G, Fang W, Fang Y, Wang K (1998) A survey of studies on the South China Sea upper ocean circulation. Acta Oceanogr Taiwanica 37:1–16Google Scholar
  14. Flemming BW (2007) The influence of grain-size analysis methods and sediment mixing on curve shapes and textural parameters: implications for sediment trend analysis. Sediment Geol 202:425–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Folk RL, Ward WC (1957) Brazos River bar: a study in the significance of grain size parameters. J Sediment Petrol 27:3–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gao S (1996) A Fortran program for grain-size trend analysis to define net sediment transport pathways. Comput Geosci 22:449–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gao S (2009) Grain size trend analysis: principle and applicability (in Chinese). Acta Sediment Sinica 10:826–836Google Scholar
  18. Gao S, Collins M (1991) A critique of the “McLaren method” for defining sediment transport paths: discussion. J Sediment Petrol 61:143–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gao S, Collins M (1992) Net sediment transport patterns inferred from grain-size trends based upon definition of “transport vectors”. Sediment Geol 80:47–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gao S, Collins MB (2014) Holocene sedimentary systems on continental shelves. Mar Geol 352:268–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gao S, Collins MB, Lanckneus J, Moor GD, Lancker VV (1994) Grain size trends associated with net sediment transport patterns: an example from the Belgian continental shelf. Mar Geol 121:171–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hamann Y, Ehrmann W, Schmiedl G, Krüger S, Stuut J-B, Kuhnt T (2008) Sedimentation processes in the eastern Mediterranean Sea during the late glacial and Holocene revealed by end-member modelling of the terrigenous fraction in marine sediments. Mar Geol 248:97–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hartmann D (2007) From reality to model: operationalism and the value chain of particle-size analysis of natural sediments. Sediment Geol 202:383–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hu J, Li S, Geng B (2011) Modeling the mass flux budgets of water and suspended sediments for the river network and estuary in the Pearl River Delta, China. J Mar Syst 88:252–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. IJmker J, Stauch G, Dietze E, Hartmann K, Diekmann B, Lockot G, Opitz S, Wünnemann B, Lehmkuhl F (2012) Characterisation of transport processes and sedimentary deposits by statistical end-member mixing analysis of terrestrial sediments in the Donggi Cona lake catchment, NE Tibetan plateau. Sediment Geol 281:166–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ji X, Sheng J, Tang L, Liu D, Yang X (2011) Process study of dry-season circulation in the Pearl River estuary and adjacent coastal waters using a triple-nested coastal circulation model. Ocean Model 38:138–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jia J, Gao S, Xue Y (2003) Sediment dynamic processes of the Yuehu inlet system, Shandong peninsula, China. Estuar, Coast Shelf Sci 57:783–801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kaiser HF (1958) The varimax criterion for analytic rotation in factor analysis. Psychometrika 23:187–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Klovan JE, Imbrie J (1971) An algorithm and FORTRAN-IV program for large-scale Q-mode factor analysis and calculation of factor scores. Math Geol 3:61–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lai Z, Ma R, Gao G, Chen C, Beardsley RC (2015) Impact of multichannel river network on the plume dynamics in the Pearl River estuary. J Geophys Res Oceans 120:5766–5789CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lawson CL, Hanson RJ (1974) Solving least squares problems. Prentice Hall, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  32. Le Roux JP (1994) Net sediment transport patterns inferred from grain-size trends, based upon definition of “transport vectors”—comment. Sediment Geol 90:153–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Le Roux JP, Rojas EM (2007) Sediment transport patterns determined from grain size parameters: overview and state of the art. Sediment Geol 202:473–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Liu JT, Liu K, Huang JC (2002b) The effect of a submarine canyon on the river sediment dispersal and inner shelf sediment movements in southern Taiwan. Mar Geol 181:357–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Liu ZS, Zhao HT, Fan SQ, Chen SQ (2002a) Geology of the South China Sea (in Chinese). Science Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  36. Liu Z, Colin C, Li X, Zhao Y, Tuo S, Chen Z, Siringan FP, Liu JT, Huang C-Y, You C-F, Huang K-F (2010) Clay mineral distribution in surface sediments of the northeastern South China Sea and surrounding fluvial drainage basins: source and transport. Mar Geol 277:48–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Liu Y, Gao S, Wang YP, Yang Y, Long J, Zhang Y, Wu X (2014) Distal mud deposits associated with the Pearl River over the northwestern continental shelf of the South China Sea. Mar Geol 347:43–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mao Q, Shi P, Yin K, Gan J, Qi Y (2004) Tides and tidal currents in the Pearl River estuary. Cont Shelf Res 24:1797–1808CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McCave IN, Hall IR (2006) Size sorting in marine muds: processes, pitfalls, and prospects for paleoflow-speed proxies. Geochem Geophys Geosyst 7:Q10N05. doi: 10.1029/2006GC001284
  40. McLaren P (1981) An interpretation of trends in grain size measures. J Sediment Petrol 51:611–624Google Scholar
  41. McLaren P, Bowles D (1985) The effects of sediment transport on grain-size distributions. Journal of Sediment Petrol 4:457–470Google Scholar
  42. McLaren P, Hill SH, Bowles D (2007) Deriving transport pathways in a sediment trend analysis (STA). Sediment Geol 202:489–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ou S, Zhang H, Wang D (2009) Dynamics of the buoyant plume off the Pearl River estuary in summer. Environ Fluid Mech 9:471–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Owen RB (2005) Modern fine-grained sedimentation—spatial variability and environmental controls on an inner pericontinental shelf, Hong Kong. Mar Geol 214:1–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pan J, Gu Y (2016) Cruise observation and numerical modeling of turbulent mixing in the Pearl River estuary in summer. Cont Shelf Res 120:122–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Park C-S, Hwang S, Yoon S-O, Choi J (2014) Grain size partitioning in loess–paleosol sequence on the west coast of South Korea using the Weibull function. Catena 121:307–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Parris AS, Bierman PR, Noren AJ, Prins MA, Lini A (2010) Holocene paleostorms identified by particle size signatures in lake sediments from the northeastern United States. J Paleolimnol 43:29–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Paterson GA, Heslop D (2015) New methods for unmixing sediment grain size data. Geochem Geophys Geosyst 16:4494–4506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pedreros R, Howa HL, Michel D (1996) Application of grain size trend analysis for the determination of sediment transport pathways in intertidal areas. Mar Geol 135:35–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Poizot E, Mear Y, Thomas M, Garnaud S (2006) The application of geostatistics in defining the characteristic distance for grain size trend analysis. Comput Geosci 32:360–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Poizot E, Méar Y, Biscara L (2008) Sediment trend analysis through the variation of granulometric parameters: a review of theories and applications. Earth Sci Rev 86:15–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Prins MA, Bouwer LM, Beets CJ, Troelstra SR, Weltje GJ, Kruk RW, Kuijpers A, Vroon PZ (2002) Ocean circulation and iceberg discharge in the glacial North Atlantic: inferences from unmixing of sediment size distributions. Geology 30:555–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ríos F, Cisternas M, Le Roux JP, Correa I (2002) Seasonal sediment transport pathways in Lirquén Harbor, Chile, as inferred from grain size trends. Investig Mar 30:3–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sánchez A, Carriquiry JD (2011) Sediment transport patterns in Todos Santos Bay, Baja California, Mexico, inferred from grain-size trends. In: Manning AJ (ed) Sediment transport in aquatic environments. InTech, Rijeka, Croatia, pp 3–18Google Scholar
  55. Su J (2004) Overview of the South China Sea circulation and its influence on the coastal physical oceanography outside the Pearl River estuary. Cont Shelf Res 24:1745–1760CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Su G, Wang T (1994) Basic characteristics of modern sedimentation in South China Sea. In: Zhou D, Liang Y-B, Zeng C-K (eds) Oceanology of China seas, vol 1. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, pp 407–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tang L, Sheng J, Ji X, Cao W, Liu D (2009) Investigation of three-dimensional circulation and hydrography over the Pearl River estuary of China using a nested-grid coastal circulation model. Ocean Dyn 59:899–919CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. van Lancker V, Lanckneus J, Hearn S, Hoekstra P, Levoy F, Miles J, Moerkerke G, Monfort O, Whitehouse R (2004) Coastal and nearshore morphology, bedforms and sediment transport pathways at Teignmouth (UK). Cont Shelf Res 24:1171–1202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wang Y, Gao S, Jia J (2000) Sediment distribution and transport patterns in Jiaozhou Bay and adjoining areas (in Chinese). Acta Geogr Sinica 55:449–458Google Scholar
  60. Weltje GJ (1997) End-member modeling of compositional data: numerical-statistical algorithms for solving the explicit mixing problem. Math Geol 29:503–549CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Weltje GJ, Prins MA (2007) Genetically meaningful decomposition of grain-size distributions. Sed Geol 202:409–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wong LA, Chen JC, Xue H, Dong LX, Guan WB, Su JL (2003a) A model study of the circulation in the Pearl River estuary (PRE) and its adjacent coastal waters: 2. Sensitivity experiments. J Geophys Res Oceans 108:3157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wong LA, Chen JC, Xue H, Dong LX, Su JL, Heinke G (2003b) A model study of the circulation in the Pearl River estuary (PRE) and its adjacent coastal waters: 1. Simulations and comparison with observations. J Geophys res. Oceans 108:3156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wong LA, Chen JC, Dong LX (2004) A model of the plume front of the Pearl River estuary, China and adjacent coastal waters in the winter dry season. Cont Shelf Res 24:1779–1795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wu Y, Zhang W, Guan M, Hu H (2016) Net bottom sediment transport pattern related to residual currents in the Pearl River estuary, South China. In: proc ASME 2016 35th Int Conf Ocean, offshore and Arctic engineering. American Society of Mechanical Engineers, paper no OMAE2016-54514. doi: 10.1115/OMAE2016-54514
  66. Xia XM, Li Y, Yang H, Wu CY, Sing TH, Pong HK (2004) Observations on the size and settling velocity distributions of suspended sediment in the Pearl River estuary, China. Cont Shelf Res 24:1809–1826CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Xiao Z-J (2012) Characteristics and transport trend of surface sediments in Pearl River estuary and the adjacent sea area (in Chinese). Mar Sci Bull 5:481–488Google Scholar
  68. Yu S-Y, Colman SM, Li L (2016) BEMMA: a hierarchical Bayesian end-member modeling analysis of sediment grain-size distributions. Math Geosci 48:723–741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Zhang RS (1992) Suspended sediment transport processes on tidal mud flat in Jiangsu Province, China. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 35:225–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Zhang W, Zheng J, Ji X, Hoitink AJF, van de Vegt M, Zhu Y (2013) Surficial sediment distribution and the associated net sediment transport pattern in the Pearl River estuary, South China. Cont Shelf Res 61-62:41–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zhao H (1990) Evolution of the Pearl River estuary (in Chinese). China Ocean Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  72. Zhao G, Ye S, Yuan H, Ding X, Wang J (2017) Surface sediment properties and heavy metal pollution assessment in the Pearl River estuary, China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24:2966–2979CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Zu T, Wang D, Gan J, Guan W (2014) On the role of wind and tide in generating variability of Pearl River plume during summer in a coupled wide estuary and shelf system. J Mar Syst 136:65–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangzhou Marine Geological SurveyChina Geological SurveyGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.South China Sea Marine Engineering Surveying Center, State Oceanic AdministrationGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations