Hydrodynamics of suspended particulate matter in the tidal freshwater zone of a macrotidal estuary (the Seine Estuary, France)
Dominique BOUST, Loïc GUÉZENNEC, Robert LAFITE, Jean-Paul DUPONT, Robert MEYER
Estuaries, 22, 3A, p.717-727 (1999)
The effects of fortnightly, semidiurnal, and quaterdiurnal lunar tidal cycles on suspended particle concentrations in the tidal freshwater zone of the Seine macrotidal estuary were studied during periods of medium to low freshwater flow. Long term records of turbidity show semidiurnal and spring neap erosion-sedimentation cycles. During spring tide, the rise in low tide levels in the upper estuary leads to storage of water in the upper estuary. This increases residence time of water and suspended particulate matter (SPM). During spring tide periods, significant tidal pumping, measured by flux calculations, prevents SPM transit to the middle estuary which is characterized by the turbidity maximum zone. On a long term basis, this tidal pumping allows marine particles to move upstream for several tens of kilometers into the upper estuary. At the end of the spring tide period, when the concentrations of suspended particulate matter are at their peak values and the low tide level drops, the transport of suspended particulate matter to the Middle estuary reaches its highest point. This period of maximum turbidity is of short duration because a significant amount of the SPM settles during neap tide. The particles, which settle under these conditions, are trapped in the upper estuary and cannot be moved to the zone of maximum turbidity until the next spring tide. From the upper estuary to the zone of maximum turbidity, particulate transport is generated by pulses at the start of the spring neap tide transition period.