Modelling flocculation: Towards an integration in large-scale sediment transport models

C. Chassagne*, Z. Safar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Despite recent advancement in the field of sediment transport, the integration of cohesive sediment properties in large-scale transport models remain a challenging task. In order to model adequately the change in particle size that occurs in different environmental conditions, flocculation models based on the so-called Population Balance Equations (PBE) are often used. These models have to be efficient enough to be implemented in numerical transport models, and as full PBE's are time-expensive to run and depend on a huge amount of a-priori unknown parameters, simplifications have to be made. These simplifications comes unavoidably at the cost of properly accounting for the complex particle-particle and particle-fluid interactions. In order to stay as close as possible to the physical processes, we propose a different approach based on a logistic growth model that mimics the Particle Size Distribution (PSD) measured over time for all size classes. The parameters of the model can easily be found from laboratory measurements. In contrast to most models, the particle classes we propose are not defined by particle size, but in terms of mineral sediment composition. One class is composed of (unflocculated) mineral sediment particles, another of flocculated sediment particles and a third one of organic particles. The mass balance between classes and the way to obtain their corresponding average settling velocity are given. Mass balance and settling velocities are the required input parameters for all sediment transport models. The simplicity of the derived expressions, and their link with measurable variables, makes them good candidates for future implementation in such models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106361
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Geology
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cohesive sediment
  • Flocculation
  • Logistic growth
  • Population Balance Equation
  • Sediment transport


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