Journal of Ocean University of China

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 43–56 | Cite as

Mechanism of Phase Lag Between Current Speed and Suspended Sediment: Combined Effect of Erosion, Deposition, and Advection

  • Zichen Zhu
  • Yongzhi WangEmail author
  • Zejian Hu
  • Shuhua Bian
  • Yongqiang Zhang
  • Congbo Xiong


To retrieve and explain the phase lag between current speed and suspended sediment concentration (SSC), erosion, deposition, and advection were isolated as primary processes of sediment movement in a three-dimensional model. The response time was proved to be one of the reasons for the phase lag, as time is needed for suspension to diffuse from bottom to surface. A fitted Shields diagram was introduced into the model to reflect the relationship between SSC and shear stress, between shear stress and critical shear stress, as well as between SSC and critical shear stress for erosion. It takes some time for shear stress to increase to the critical value after high or low tide, and this was proved to be an important contributor to the phase lag. Overall, the variation of vertically integrated SSC is influenced by erosion mass flux, deposition mass flux, and advection flux. The phase pattern of erosion mass flux is consistent with the pattern of current if there was no wave action. However, phase difference is produced by the influence of deposition mass flux and advection. In this study, SSC peak/trough mostly occurred near the moment erosion mass flux approximately equaled deposition mass flux and would be impacted by advection. The time required for instantaneous variation of suspension to get to 0 after current peak/trough represents the phase lag between current speed and SSC.

Key words

phase lag sediment transport critical shear stress suspended sediment 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundations of China (Nos. 41276084 and 41406100). Furthermore, the authors gratefully acknowledge the reviewers for their valuable comments on the manuscript.


  1. Aldridge, J. N., 1996. Optimal fitting of a model to observations of sediment concentration in the Irish Sea. In: Estuarine and Coastal Modelling Proceedings of the 4th International Conference. American Society of Civil Engineers, San Diego, USA, 417–428.Google Scholar
  2. Andersen, T. J., Fredsoe, J., and Pejrup, M., 2007. In situ estimation of erosion and deposition thresholds by Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (ADV). Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science, 75 (3): 327–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ariathurai, R., and Arulanandan, K., 1978. Erosion rates of cohesive soils. Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 104 (2): 279–283.Google Scholar
  4. Bass, S. J., Aldridge, J. N., Mccave, I. N., and Vincent, C. E., 2002. Phase relationships between fine sediment suspensions and tidal currents in coastal seas. Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans, 107 (C10): L3146, DOI: 10.1029/2001JC00 1269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Booij, N., Ris, R. C., and Holthuijsen, L. H., 1999. A third–generation wave model for coastal regions, Part I, Model description and validation. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 104 (C4): 7649–7666.Google Scholar
  6. Buffington, J. M., 1999. The legend of A. F. Shields. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 125 (4): 376–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cao, Z., Pender, G., and Meng, J., 2006. Explicit formulation of the Shields diagram for incipient motion of sediment. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 132 (10): 1097–1099.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chao, X., Jia, Y., Shields Jr., F. D., Wang, S. S. Y., Cooper, C. M., 2008. Three–dimensional numerical modeling of cohesive sediment transport and wind wave impact in a shallow oxbow lake. Advances in Water Resources, 31 (7): 1004–1014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cheng, P., and Wilson, R. E., 2008. Modeling sediment suspensions in an idealized tidal embayment: Importance of tidal asymmetry and settling lag. Estuaries & Coasts, 31 (5): 828–842.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dai, Q., Liu, C., Hu, J., and Zhang, Z., 2014. Study on the curvefitting for the Shields diagram and its uncertainty. Journal of Sediment Research, 6: 19–24 (in Chinese with English abstract).Google Scholar
  11. Dohmen–Janssen, C. M., 1999. Grain size influence on sediment transport in oscillatory sheet flow, phase–lags and mobile–bed effects. PhD thesis. Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands.Google Scholar
  12. Dohmen–Janssen, C. M., and Hanes, D. M., 2005. Sheet flow and suspended sediment due to wave groups in a large wave flume. Continental Shelf Research, 25 (3): 333–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Droppo, I. G., D’Andrea, L., Krishnappan, B. G., Jaskot, C., Trapp, B., and Basuvaraj, M., 2015. Fine–sediment dynamics: Towards an improved understanding of sediment erosion and transport. Journal of Soils & Sediments, 15 (2): 467–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fettweis, M., 2008. Uncertainty of excess density and settling velocity of mud flocs derived from in situ measurements. Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science, 78 (2): 426–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fugate, D. C., and Friedrichs, C. T., 2002. Determining concentration and fall velocity of estuarine particle populations using ADV, OBS and LISST. Continental Shelf Research, 22 (11–13): 1867–1886.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. FVCOM Team, 2013. An unstructured grid, finite–volume community ocean model FVCOM user manual, SMAST/UMASSD–13–0701. New Bedford, Mass. Scholar
  17. Gartner, J. W., 2004. Estimating suspended solids concentrations from backscatter intensity measured by acoustic Doppler current profiler in San Francisco Bay, California. Marine Geology, 211 (3–4): 169–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ge, J., Shen, F., Guo, W., Chen, C., and Ding, X., 2015. Estimation of critical shear stress for erosion in the Changjiang Estuary: A synergy research of observation, GOCI sensing and modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 120 (2): 8439–8465.Google Scholar
  19. Hoitink, A. J. F., Hoekstra, P., and Maren, D. S. V., 2003. Flow asymmetry associated with astronomical tides: Implications for the residual transport of sediment. Journal of Geophysical Research, 108 (C10): 207–215.Google Scholar
  20. Houwing, E., 1999. Determination of the critical erosion threshold of cohesive sediments on intertidal mudflats along the Dutch Wadden Sea coast. Estuarine Coastal Shelf, 49 (4): 545–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jago, C. F., and Jones, S. E., 1998. Observation and modelling of the dynamics of benthic fluff resuspended from a sandy bed in the southern North Sea. Continental Shelf Research, 18 (11): 1255–1282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kennedy, J. F., 1995. The Albert Shields story. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 121 (11): 766–772.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lanuru, M., 2008. Measuring critical erosion shear stress of intertidal sediments with eromes erosion device. Fakultas Ilmu Kelautan Dan Perikanan Unhas, 18 (5): 390–397.Google Scholar
  24. Linares, M. D., and Belleudy, P., 2007. Critical shear stress of bimodal sediment in Sand–Gravel Rivers. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 133 (5): 555–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Liu, G. F., Zhu, J. R., Wang, Y. Y., Wu, H., and Wu, J. X., 2011. Tripod measured residual currents and sediment flux: Impacts on the silting of the Deepwater Navigation Channel in the Changjiang Estuary. Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science, 93 (3): 192–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lund–Hansen, L. C., Christiansen, C., Jensen, O., and Laima, M., 1999. The laberex chamber for studying the critical shear stress for fine–grained sediment. Geografisk Tidskrift, 99 (1): 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Moura, M. G., Valeria, S. Q., Bastos, C. A., and Veronez, P., 2011. Field observations of SPM using ADV, ADP, and OBS in a shallow estuarine system with low SPM concentration–Vitória Bay, SE Brazil. Ocean Dynamics, 61 (2–3): 273–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Prandle, D., 1997. Tidal characteristics of suspended sediment concentrations. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 123 (4): 341–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pritchard, D., 2005. Suspended sediment transport along an idealized tidal embayment: Settling lag, residual transport and the interpretation of tidal signals. Ocean Dynamics, 55: 124–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Soulsby, R. L., and Whitehouse, R. J. S. W., 1997. Threshold of sediment motion in coastal environments. In: Proceedings of the Combined Australasian Coastal Engineering and Port Conference. Christchurch, New Zealand, 149–154.Google Scholar
  31. SWAN Team, 2006. SWAN cycle III version 40.51 technical documentation. Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.Google Scholar
  32. Vanoni, V. A., 1964. Measurements of critical shear stress for entraining fine sediments in a boundary layer. Report no. KHR–7. Pasadena, California, 1–53.Google Scholar
  33. Williamson, H., and Ockenden, M., 1996. Isis: An instrument for measuring erosion shear stress in situ. Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science, 42 (1): 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Winterwerp, J. C., Manning, A. J., Martens, C., Mulder, T. D., and Vanlede, J., 2006. A heuristic formula for turbulence–induced flocculation of cohesive sediment. Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science, 68 (s1–2): 195–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Xie, M., Zhang, W., and Guo, W., 2010. A validation concept for cohesive sediment transport model and application on Lianyungang harbor, China. Coastal Engineering, 57 (6): 585–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yu, Q., Flemming, B. W., and Gao, S., 2011. Tide–induced vertical suspended sediment concentration profiles: Phase lag and amplitude attenuation. Ocean Dynamics, 61 (4): 403–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yu, Q., Wang, Y. P., Flemming, B., and Gao, S., 2012. Tideinduced suspended sediment transport: Depth–averaged concentrations and horizontal residual fluxes. Continental Shelf Research, 34 (1): 53–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Ocean University of China and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zichen Zhu
    • 1
  • Yongzhi Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zejian Hu
    • 1
  • Shuhua Bian
    • 1
  • Yongqiang Zhang
    • 1
  • Congbo Xiong
    • 1
  1. 1.First Institute of OceanographicMinistry of Natural ResourcesQingdaoChina

Personalised recommendations