Consolidated sediment resuspension in model vegetated canopies

  • Jordi Colomer
  • Aleix Contreras
  • Andrew Folkard
  • Teresa SerraEmail author
Original Article


Aquatic plants, turbulence and sediment fluxes interact with each other in a complex, non-linear fashion. While most studies have considered turbulence as being generated primarily by mean flow, it can, however, also be generated by the action of the wind or by the night cooling convection at the surface of the water column. Here, we study turbulent interaction with vegetation and the effects it has on sediment suspension, in the absence of mean flow. In a water tank containing a base layer of sediment, turbulence was generated by oscillating a grid with the main objective being to determine the differences in sediment resuspension in sediment beds over a wide range of consolidation times (1 h–3 days), for a set of model canopies with different structural characteristics: density and flexibility, and for three types of sediment beds. The greater the consolidation time was, the lower the sediment resuspension. For bed consolidation times below 6 h, the concentration of resuspended sediment was approximately constant and had no dependence on turbulence intensity. However, for higher bed consolidation times, between 6 and 3 days, the resuspension of the sediment beds increased with turbulence intensity (defined in terms of turbulent kinetic energy; TKE hereafter). The TKE within the sparse flexible canopies was higher than that in the sparse rigid canopies, while within the dense flexible canopies it was below that of the rigid canopies. Therefore, the sediment resuspension in the sparse flexible canopies was greater than that of the sparse rigid canopies. In contrast, the sediment resuspension in the dense flexible canopies was lower than that of the dense rigid canopies. Using different sediment types, the results of the study indicate that sediments with greater concentrations of small particles (muddy beds) have higher concentrations of resuspended sediment than sediment beds that are composed of larger particle sizes (sandy beds).


Oscillating grid Isotropic turbulence Sediment re-suspension Turbulent kinetic energy Submerged vegetation 

List of symbols


Total area studied (cm2)


Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter


Plant width (mm)


Suspended sediment concentration (μg L−1)


Suspended sediment concentration with time (μg L−1)


Initial suspended sediment concentration, at t = 0 s (μg L−1)


Relative suspended sediment concentration in the steady state (μg L−1)


Diameter of the plant model (mm)


Modulus of elasticity (Pa)


Grid oscillation frequency (s−1)


Mean water depth (m)


Length of the rigid canopy model (m)


Turbulent kinetic energy


Turbulent kinetic energy profile at the boundary


Integral length scale (mm)


Spacing between bars in oscillating grid (m)


Number of plants per square meter


Oscillating Grid Turbulence


Polyvinyl chloride




Stroke (m)


Submerged Flexible Vegetation


Solid Plant Fraction (%)


Submerged Rigid Vegetation


Time (s)


Turbulent Kinetic Energy (m2 s−2)


Total Suspended Sediment (g L−1)

u, v, w

Components of the Eulerian velocity


Time averaged velocity (m s−1)


Turbulent component of velocity (m s−1)


Without plants


Vertical direction


Distance from the grid to the water surface (m)


Lambda parameter 1


Lambda parameter 2


Water density (kg m−3)


Plant density (kg m−3)


Kinematic viscosity (m2 s−1)



This research was funded by the University of Girona, through the Grant MPCUdG2016-006 and by the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad of the Spanish Government through the Grant CGL2017-86515-P.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jordi Colomer
    • 1
  • Aleix Contreras
    • 1
  • Andrew Folkard
    • 2
  • Teresa Serra
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsEscola Politècnica Superior II, University of GironaGironaSpain
  2. 2.Lancaster Environment CentreLancasterUK

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