Seasonal variation of floc population influenced by the presence of algae in the Changjiang (Yangtze River) Estuary

Zhirui Deng, Qing He*, Claire Chassagne, Zheng Bing Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The variation of the floc population in the Changjiang Estuary has been studied for both winter and summer season as a function of the presence of living (micro)algae. The influence of algae has been characterized through the use of the chlorophyll-a concentration to suspended sediment concentration (CC/SSC) ratio. Two whole tidal cycle sampling campaigns were carried out and a full set of parameters (particle size distribution, particle concentration, salinity, velocities, chlorophyll-a concentration) was recorded as function of time for 6 vertical depths. It is found that the floc population can be described by three particle classes. The two most dynamic classes (microflocs and macroflocs) co-exist in the water column. It was nonetheless found, due to the correlation between CC/SSC and particle sizes that the system is at steady state, both in summer and in winter. This can be explained by the limited flocculation ability between the classes due to their segregation in the water column. In winter, macroflocs are found at the top of the water column but their amount and size are very reduced with a mean CC/SSC value of 13 ± 11 μg g−1. In summer, algae-rich macroflocs are abundant at the top of the water column with a mean CC/SSC value of 21 ± 18 μg g−1, especially at flood tide. Microflocs, on the other hand, have a higher density and are generally found deeper in the water column. At high water slack, both macroflocs and microflocs will settle but will never catch-up. The fact that the flocs are at steady-state in terms of flocculation is of importance for sediment transport modelling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106600
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Geology
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Accepted Author Manuscript


  • Algae
  • Changjiang Estuary
  • Floc size
  • Flocculation
  • Particle size distribution
  • Seasonal variation
  • Tidal variation
  • Yangtze Estuary


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