Map showing location of study area (left) and conceptual model of tidally driven mixed sand–mud sediment transport at flood tide (right).
Left: Bathymetry of Ameland Inlet and ebb-tidal delta, with the location of the instrument frame and the study location in the Netherlands (inset). Right: flood tide example of the conceptual model of tidally driven mixed sand–mud sediment transport. Credit: Pearson et al. [2021], Figure 2 and 8a
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

The properties of suspended sediments are difficult to measure in the field, yet characterizing these materials is essential to successful monitoring and management coastal and estuarine environments. To overcome the challenges of estimating the relative proportions of sand and mud in mixed sediment environments, Pearson et al. [2021] developed a new methodology. This is achieved by comparing the response of simultaneous optical and acoustic measurements, in both laboratory experiments and in application to field measurements on the ebb-tidal delta of a major inlet.

The important contribution in this paper is the development of a new indicator, the “sediment composition index”, that can be used to directly predict the relative fraction of sand in suspension. This approach may prove to be widely useful in gaining deeper understanding of material transport in the coastal ocean by improving estimates of sediment flux and increasing confidence in the interpretation of observations.

Citation: Pearson, S. G., Verney, R., van Prooijen, B. C., Tran, D., Hendriks, E. C. M., Jacquet, M., & Wang, Z. B. [2021]. Characterizing the composition of sand and mud suspensions in coastal and estuarine environments using combined optical and acoustic measurements. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126, e2021JC017354.

—Ryan P. Mulligan, Editor, JGR: Oceans

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