Water and fine sediment dynamics in transient river plumes in a small, reef-fringed bay, Guam

Wolanski, Eric, Richmond, Robert H., Davis, Gerald, and Bonito, Victor (2003) Water and fine sediment dynamics in transient river plumes in a small, reef-fringed bay, Guam. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science , 56 (5-6). pp. 1029-1040.

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Fouha Bay is a 400-m-long funnel-shaped, 10-m-deep, coral-fringed embayment on the southwest coast of Guam. It drains a small catchment area (5 km2) of steeply sloping, highly erodible lateritic soils. River floods are short-lived and the sediment load is very large, with suspended sediment concentration (SSC) exceeding 1000 mg l−1. The resulting river plume is about 1 m thick and is pulsing in a series of 1–2 h-long events, with outflow velocity peaking at 0.05 m s−1. Turbulent entrainment results in an oceanic inflow at depth into the bay. As soon as river flow stops, the plume floats passively and takes 5 days to be flushed out of Fouha Bay. The suspended fine sediment flocculates in 5 min and aggregates on ambient transparent exopolymer particles to form muddy marine snow flocs. In calm weather, about 75% of the riverine mud settles out of the river plume into the underlying oceanic water where it forms a transient nepheloid layer. This mud ultimately settles and is trapped in Fouha Bay. Under typhoon-driven, swell waves, the surface plume is at least 7 m thick and bottom entrainment of mud results in SSC exceeding 1000 mg l−1 for several days. It is suggested that successful management of fringing coral reefs adjacent to volcanic islands may not be possible without proper land use management in the surrounding catchment.

Item ID: 4735
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1096-0015
Keywords: river plume; fine sediment; flocculation; sedimentation; muddy marine snow; coral; Guam
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2009 02:15
Downloads: Total: 1
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