Sediment Dynamics in Shallow Tidal Landscapes: The Role of Wind Waves and Tidal Currents

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Luca Carniello and Andrea D'Alpaos, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
A precise description of sediment dynamics (resuspension and re-distribution of sediments) is crucial when investigating the long term evolution of the different morphological entities characterizing tidal landscapes.

It has been demonstrated that wind waves are the main responsible for sediment resuspension in shallow micro-tidal lagoons where tidal currents, which produce shear stresses large enough to carry sediments into suspension only within the main channels, are mainly responsible for sediment redistribution.

A mathematical model has been developed to describe sediment entrainment, transport and deposition due to the combined effect of tidal currents and wind waves in shallow lagoons considering both cohesive and non-cohesive sediments. The model was calibrated and tested using both in situ point observations and turbidity maps obtained analyzing satellite images.

Once calibrated the model can integrate the high temporal resolution of point observations with the high spatial resolution of remote sensing, overcoming the intrinsic limitation of these two types of observations.

The model was applied to the specific test case of the Venice lagoon simulating an entire year (2005) which was shown to be a “representative” year for wind and tide characteristics. The time evolution of the computed total bottom shear stresses (BSS) and suspended sediment concentration (SSC) was analyzed on the basis of a “Peaks Over Threshold” method once a critical value for shear stress and turbidity were chosen. The analyses of the numerical results enabled us to demonstrate that resuspension events can be modeled as marked Poisson processes: interarrival time, intensity of peak excesses and duration being exponentially distributed random variable.

The probability distributions of the interarrival time of overthreshold exceedances in both BSS and SSC as well as their intensity and duration can be used in long-term morphodynamic studies to generate synthetic series statistically equivalent to real sequences through which MonteCarlo realizations of relevant morphological evolutions can be computed.