Ocean Sciences Editors' Highlights

Unravelling Sands and Muds Suspended in Coastal Environments

A new study uses the response of optical and acoustic measurements to derive a sediment composition index for prediction of the relative fractions of mixed sediments in suspension.

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. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021JC017354

—Ryan P. Mulligan, Editor, JGR: Oceans

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