Sediment resuspension mechanisms and their contributions to high-turbidity events in a large lake

High-resolution field data, collected during April to October of 2008–2009, were analyzed to investigate the quantitative contribution of sediment resuspension to high-turbidity events in central Lake Erie. Resuspension events were distinguished within high-turbidity events according to turbidity, fluorescence and acoustic backscatter timeseries, as well as satellite images. We observed 16 high-turbidity events, causing a total duration of ∼20 d (out of 344 d) with elevated nearbed turbidity (> 10 NTU). Of these events, 64% were correlated with algal biomass, with the remaining 18%, 5%, and 4% being attributed to sediment resuspension by surface waves, storm-generated currents and enhanced nearbed turbulence induced by high-frequency internal waves, respectively. This is the first time that resuspension by enhanced nearbed turbulence from high-frequency linear internal wave degeneration has been observed in a large lake. Resuspension was parameterized as a function of the instantaneous critical bottom velocity, bottom shear stress and the Shields parameter. From the in situ measurements, we suggest an extended Shields diagram for silty bed material that can be used to predict resuspension in other aquatic systems with similar sediment composition (∼20% cohesive sediment).

Published in:
Limnology and Oceanography
Hoboken, American Society of Limnology and Oceanography

 Record created 2017-02-01, last modified 2018-03-17

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