Rheological analysis of mud from Port of Hamburg, Germany

Ahmad Shakeel*, Alex Kirichek, Claire Chassagne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
100 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: An innovative way to define navigable fluid mud layers is to make use of their rheological properties, in particular their yield stress. In order to help the development of in situ measurement techniques, it is essential that the key rheological parameters are estimated beforehand. Is there only one yield stress? In which shear rate/shear stress range is yield expected to occur? How is yield stress dependent on depths and locations in the harbor? In order to answer these questions, we investigated the changes in the rheological properties of mud from along the river stream in the Port of Hamburg, Germany, using a recently developed laboratory protocol. Materials and methods: In this study, a detailed rheological analysis was carried out on the mud samples collected from different locations and depths of the Port of Hamburg. A variety of rheological tests was performed including: stress sweep tests, flow curves, thixotropic tests, oscillatory amplitude, and frequency sweep tests. Results and discussion: The yield stresses of sediments from different locations were significantly dissimilar from each other due to differences in densities and organic matter content. Two yield stresses (termed static and fluidic) were observed for every sample and linearly correlated to each other. The thixotropic studies showed that all mud samples, except from one location, displayed a combination of thixotropic and anti-thixotropic behaviors. The results of frequency sweep tests showed the solid-like character of the sediments within the linear viscoelastic limit. The yield stresses, thixotropy, and moduli of the mud samples increased by going deeper into the sediment bed due to the increase in density of the sediments. Conclusions: This study confirmed the applicability of the recently developed protocol as a fast and reliable tool to measure the yield stresses of sediments from different locations and depths in the Port of Hamburg. The fluid mud layer, in all the locations it was observed, exhibited relatively small yield stress values and weak thixotropic behavior. This confirms that despite the fact that rheology of fluid mud is complex, this layer can be navigable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2553-2562
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
Volume20 (2020)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Flow curve
  • Fluid mud
  • Rheology
  • Thixotropy
  • Yield stress; Moduli


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