A model diagnostic study of age of river-borne sediment transport in the tidal York River Estuary
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As nutrients and organic matters are transported preferentially in an adsorbed state and tend to bind to the sediments, sediment transport plays an important role on eutrophication processes in the estuaries. The timescale of sediment transport is of significance for studying the retention of pollutants and eutrophication processes in the estuaries. Unlike transport of dissolved substances that is mainly controlled by advection and diffusion processes, the sediment transport is significantly affected by the intermittent settling and resuspension processes. A three-dimensional model with suspended sediment transport was utilized to investigate the transport timescale of river-borne sediment in the tidal York River Estuary. The results indicate that river discharge dominantly determines the age of river-borne sediment in the estuary. High river discharge results in a low sediment age compared to that under mean flow. The intermittent effects of settling and resuspension events greatly affect the river-borne sediment age. Both settling velocity and critical shear stress are shown to be key parameters in determining the sediment transport timescale. The sediment age decreases as settling velocity and/or critical shear stress decrease, while it increases with the increase of settling velocity that prevents the sediment to be transported out of the estuary.
KeywordsTransport of suspended sediment Age of sediment York River Estuary Chesapeake Bay Sediment modeling
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