Surficial sediment erodibility from time-series measurements of suspended sediment concentrations: development and validation

Rooni Mathew*, Johan C. Winterwerp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Numerical models of fine sediment transport depend on different approaches to parameterize the erosion properties of surficial sediment strata. These properties, namely the critical shear stress for erosion and the erosion rate coefficient, are crucial for reproducing the short-term and long-term sediment dynamics of the system. Methods to parameterize these properties involve either specialized laboratory measurements on sediment samples or optimization by model calibration. Based on observations of regular patterns in the variation of suspended sediment concentrations (SSC) over the tidal cycle in a small, narrow estuary, an alternate approach, referred to as the entrainment flux method, for quantifying the erosion properties of surficial bed strata is formulated and applied. The results of this method are shown to be analogous to the erosion data used to formulate the standard linear erosion formulation developed by various authors. The erosion properties inferred from the entrainment flux method are also compared to direct measurements of erodibility on sediment samples from the same site using the Gust microcosm apparatus. The favorable comparison of the two approaches suggests that the entrainment flux method can be used to infer and quantify the erodibility of surficial sediment strata in similar small and narrow estuaries. This method has certain advantages, chiefly its ease of implementation and the fact that it uses SSC time series which would typically be expected to be available for the study of or for model application at a given site. Guidelines for selecting the appropriate dataset for the application of the method are also presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-712
Number of pages22
JournalOcean Dynamics: theoretical, computational oceanography and monitoring
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Critical shear stress
  • Erodibility
  • Erosion coefficient
  • Fluff layer
  • Surficial sediment


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