The tidal flushing of multiple-loop animal burrows

Heron, S.F., and Ridd, P.V. (2008) The tidal flushing of multiple-loop animal burrows. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science , 78 (1). pp. 135-144.

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Abstract

Tidal flushing of animal burrows in mangrove swamps provides an effective and important mechanism for transport of salt and other soluble substances. The burrows have complex morphologies consisting of multiple loops. Using established computational modelling techniques, burrow geometries were simulated from characteristic burrow dimensions and the effect of multiple loops on flushing is studied. The computational models show that flushing is enhanced in multiple-loop burrows as upper loops can be completely evacuated, increasing the volume of burrow water removed. The models indicate that there may be a depth limit to which flushing occurs in complex burrow structures. Periscope loops extend further than one characteristic loop depth and are shown to affect the flushing of burrows if the surface-water plume penetrates to their lower depth. Periscope loops with surface openings on the downstream side of the burrow, relative to the tidal inundation, most frequently experience this condition and thus have a great impact on burrow flushing. Field measurements of salinity agree with the hypothesis that there is a depth limit of flushing for complex burrows that is independent of burrow salinity, and suggest a value of 30–35 cm. The measurements also support the suggestion that significant flushing of burrows occurs within a single tidal event. An experiment considered the movement of animals across the interface created by low-salinity surface water and high-salinity burrow water after a partial flushing event. The motion enhances the effective diffusion coefficient of salt by a factor of at least 102, as compared with free diffusion of salt in water, resulting in a more even distribution of dissolved salt in the burrow water between tidal inundations. This distribution may lead to an increase in the depth to which flushing occurs during subsequent inundations.

Item ID: 6296
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: burrows; computer Simulation/modeling; flushing time
ISSN: 1096-0015
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2010 23:16
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0405 Oceanography > 040503 Physical Oceanography @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961104 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Marine Environments @ 100%
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