Trapping of fine sediment in a semi-enclosed bay, Palau, Micronesia

Golbuu, Yimnang, Victor, Steven, Wolanski, Eric, and Richmond, Robert H. (2003) Trapping of fine sediment in a semi-enclosed bay, Palau, Micronesia. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science , 57 (5-6). pp. 941-949.

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Airai Bay, Palau, is a small (3 km2), semi-enclosed, mangrove-fringed, meso-tidal, coral lagoon on the southeast coast of Palau. It drains a small catchment area (26 km2) of highly erodible soils in an area with high annual rainfall (3.7 m). River floods are short-lived and the sediment load is very large, with suspended fine sediment concentration exceeding 1500 mg l−1. The resulting river plume is about 2 m thick. The brackish water residence time is about 7 days; during this period the plume remains a distinct surface feature even after river runoff has ceased. About 98% of the riverine fine sediment settles in Airai Bay, of which about 15–30% is deposited in the mangroves during river floods. This mud remains trapped in Airai Bay because the bay is protected from ocean swells and the tidal currents and locally generated wind waves are too small to resuspend the mud in quantity. The mud is smothering coral reefs, creating a phase shift from coral to fleshy algae dominance, and is even changing habitats by creating mud banks. The persistence of Airai Bay marine resources may not be possible without improved soil erosion control in the river catchment.

Item ID: 4734
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1096-0015
Keywords: river plume; fine sediment; flushing; sedimentation; coral; Palau
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2009 02:08
Downloads: Total: 4
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