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On harbour siltation in the fresh-salt water mixing region
De Nijs, M.A.J.; Winterwerp, J.C.; Pietrzak, J. (2009). On harbour siltation in the fresh-salt water mixing region. Cont. Shelf Res. 29(1): 175-193.
In: Continental Shelf Research. Pergamon Press: Oxford; New York. ISSN 0278-4343, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Estuaries; Harbours; Siltation; Turbidity; ANE, Netherlands, Rotterdam Harbour [Marine Regions]; Brackish water

Authors  Top 
  • De Nijs, M.A.J.
  • Winterwerp, J.C., more
  • Pietrzak, J.

    In this paper a novel series of field measurements are presented, which are the first to elucidate the processes influencing siltation in Botlek Harbour. Botlek Harbour is situated at the limit of saline water intrusion in the Rotterdam Waterway. Normally, after the ebb tide fresher river waters are found in the Rotterdam Waterway at the location of Botlek Harbour. On the flooding tide, the tip of the salt wedge is advected along the Rotterdam Waterway towards the mouth of Botlek Harbour. Hence on flood, a lock-exchange mechanism operates between Botlek Harbour and the Rotterdam Waterway. On the flood tide, when there is a supply of suspended particulate matter (SPM) associated with the presence of the estuarine turbidity maximum (ETM) at the mouth of the harbour, the survey data show exchange of SPM into the harbour. This lock-exchange process is found to be the dominant cause for SPM transport into the harbour. This is further substantiated by an analysis of the mass transport mechanisms. In this analysis, the vertical profiles of the instantaneous velocity, salinity and SPM concentration fields, recorded during the surveys, were decomposed into advective and dispersive transport components. The results of this analysis indicate that the correlation between the lock-exchange mechanism on the flood tide with the availability of SPM for exchange and efficient trapping, dominate the total exchange of SPM (97%). Hence, the increase in measured near-bed SPM concentration within the harbour is ascribed to tidal advection of saline water and the ETM along the Rotterdam Waterway. Tidal advection controls the density difference between the estuary and harbour, as well as the availability of SPM for exchange at the entrance to Botlek Harbour. The location of the ETM at the tip of the salt wedge is a key factor in supplying SPM to Botlek Harbour. Consequently the timing of the availability of SPM at the mouth of the harbour needs to be considered in siltation studies. The survey data suggest that Botlek Harbour basin has a 100% trapping efficiency. Analysis of 5 months of data, from a measuring rig located within the harbour, show excursions of the limit of the salt wedge and ETM. These excursions are likely to affect siltation of upstream harbours. Salinity-induced density gradients control the transport and subsequent trapping of SPM in the estuary in close proximity to the harbour entrance, the exchange of SPM between the estuary and harbour, and the trapping of SPM in the harbour basin.

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