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Martin Sanchez and Daniel Levacher (2007)

The influence of particle size of the dispersed mineral fraction on the settlement of marine and estuarine muds

Geo-Marine Letters, 27(5):303-313.

Considering the sedimentation behaviour of suspensions, four states of different sediment-water mixtures are usually distinguished, these being (in increasing concentration) dilute suspensions, concentrated suspensions, fluid muds and mud deposits. As the concentration values delimiting these states vary considerably from one cohesive sediment to another, a procedure for their quantitative determination is proposed here. This paper deals mainly with the effects of hindered settling in interacting concentrated suspensions and of sedimentation in fluid muds. In contrast to the settling velocity of individual particles in a dilute suspension, which must be studied statistically as a stochastic variable denoted W, hindered settling and sedimentation velocities can be described by a scalar denoted V, as solids at any particular level of concentrated suspensions and fluid muds settle at the same velocity. On the basis of settlement tests carried out in this study and published data on organic-rich cohesive sediments, a concentration-dependent empirical law for a permeability coefficient (k) has been generated for cohesive sediments, using data from ten estuarine and nine marine environments, based on the one-dimensional Kynch theory of sedimentation. Based on the median diameters of the dispersed mineral fraction, the main provenances of the sediments are: fine to very fine clay from tropical marine/estuarine environments, medium clay to very fine silt from estuaries in western France, and fine to coarse silt from marine (harbour) environments in the Normandy region of France. A general trend for the influence of the grain size of the mineral fraction on the permeability coefficient has been established. It is demonstrated that the concentrations delimiting the different states of sediment-water mixtures can also be related to the grain size of the mineral fraction. Thus, hindered settling and sedimentation processes of muds, similar to the marine and estuarine cohesive sediments considered in this paper, can be studied as generic problems parameterized through a defined median diameter of the dispersed mineral fraction. Results for Loire estuary sediments are presented separately, based on specific tests to analyse the influence of experimental conditions on settlement. Moreover, the concentration values delimiting the different sediment-water mixture states have been largely established for this estuary.



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