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Ian Droppo, Liana D'Andrea, Bommanna Krishnappan, Christina Jaskot, Brian Trapp, Mahendran Basuvaraj and Steven Liss (2015)

Fine-sediment dynamics: towards an improved understanding of sediment erosion and transport

Journal of Soils and Sediments, 15(2):467-479.

Using Ells River, Alberta, Canada bed sediments, this study aims to determine (1) the erosion, transport, and deposition characteristics of cohesive bottom sediments, and (2) the influence of the microbial community in this regard. A 2-m annular flume was used to generate bed shear to assess cohesive sediment dynamics for eroded beds with consolidation/biostabilization periods of 1, 3, and 7 days. Additional optical particle sizing, image analysis, densitometry, and microbial analysis were employed to further the analysis with respect to bed erosion and eroded floc characteristics. Sediment dynamics can influence the benthic and planktonic community health within aquatic systems. The critical bed shear stress for erosion increased from 0.05 to 0.19 Pa (for 1- to 7-day runs). Consolidation (dry density) increased with time and depth and eroded biofilm biomass was observed to increase with time. The community structure of the eroded sediment did not change with time suggesting a stable well-established and highly selected community. Hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria were present within the microbial consortium. The sediment was highly hydrophobic (96 \%) due to a high natural oil content which likely had a profound effect on sediment dynamics, flocculation, and sediment cohesion. Eroded sediment settled poorly, which will result in the long-range transport of associated contaminants. The Ells River possesses some unique properties which should be considered when assessing contaminant source, fate, and effect. The most significant of these are small floc size, the hydrophobicity of the sediment, and the biological community as these were found to be influential in both the erosion and flocculation processes. It is important that any management strategies and operational assessments of reclamation strategies that may have implication on river health incorporate the sediment compartments (SS and bed sediment), biology, and the energy dynamics within the system in order to better predict the downstream flux of sediments.

Rotating annular flume, activated-sludge flocs, cohesive sediments, Flocculation, shear-stress, suspended sediment, Sediment transport, flocs, Biofilm, cohesive sediment, extracellular polymeric substances, Deposition, fresh-water sediments, athabasca river, waste-water, Erosion, Bacteria, cell-surface hydrophobicity, grained sediment


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