Statistical characterization of spatiotemporal sediment dynamics in the Venice lagoon
Characterizing the dynamics of suspended sediment is crucial when investigating the long-term evolution of tidal landscapes. Here we apply a widely tested mathematical model which describes the dynamics of cohesive and noncohesive sediments, driven by the combined effect of tidal currents and wind waves, using 1 year long time series of observed water levels and wind data from the Venice lagoon. The spatiotemporal evolution of the computed suspended sediment concentration (SSC) is analyzed on the basis of the "peak over threshold" theory. Our analysis suggests that events characterized by high SSC can be modeled as a marked Poisson process over most of the lagoon. The interarrival time between two consecutive over threshold events, the intensity of peak excesses, and the duration are found to be exponentially distributed random variables over most of tidal flats. Our study suggests that intensity and duration of over threshold events are temporally correlated, while almost no correlation exists between interarrival times and both durations and intensities. The benthic vegetation colonizing the central southern part of the Venice lagoon is found to exert a crucial role on sediment dynamics: vegetation locally decreases the frequency of significant resuspension events by affecting spatiotemporal patterns of SSCs also in adjacent areas. Spatial patterns of the mean interarrival of over threshold SSC events are found to be less heterogeneous than the corresponding patterns of mean interarrivals of over threshold bottom shear stress events because of the role of advection/dispersion processes in mixing suspended sediments within the lagoon. Implications for long-term morphodynamic modeling of tidal environments are discussed.