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A parameter model for dredge plume sediment source terms
Decrop, B.; De Mulder, T.; Toorman, E.; Sas, M. (2017). A parameter model for dredge plume sediment source terms. Ocean Dynamics 67(1): 137-146.
In: Ocean Dynamics. Springer-Verlag: Berlin; Heidelberg; New York. ISSN 1616-7341; e-ISSN 1616-7228, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    CFD; Dredging; Turbidity; Plumes

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    The presented model allows for fast simulations of the near-field behaviour of overflow dredging plumes. Overflow dredging plumes occur when dredging vessels employ a dropshaft release system to discharge the excess sea water, which is pumped into the trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD) along with the dredged sediments. The fine sediment fraction in the loaded water-sediment mixture does not fully settle before it reaches the overflow shaft. By consequence, the released water contains a fine sediment fraction of time-varying concentration. The sediment grain size is in the range of clays, silt and fine sand; the sediment concentration varies roughly between 10 and 200 g/l in most cases, peaking at even higher value with short duration. In order to assess the environmental impact of the increased turbidity caused by this release, plume dispersion predictions are often carried out. These predictions are usually executed with a large-scale model covering a complete coastal zone, bay, or estuary. A source term of fine sediments is implemented in the hydrodynamic model to simulate the fine sediment dispersion. The large-scale model mesh resolution and governing equations, however, do not allow to simulate the near-field plume behaviour in the vicinity of the ship hull and propellers. Moreover, in the near-field, these plumes are under influence of buoyancy forces and air bubbles. The initial distribution of sediments is therefore unknown and has to be based on crude assumptions at present. The initial (vertical) distribution of the sediment source is indeed of great influence on the final far-field plume dispersion results. In order to study this near-field behaviour, a highly-detailed computationally fluid dynamics (CFD) model was developed. This model contains a realistic geometry of a dredging vessel, buoyancy effects, air bubbles and propeller action, and was validated earlier by comparing with field measurements. A CFD model requires significant simulation times, which is not available in all situations. For example, to allow correct representation of overflow plume dispersion in a real-time forecasting model, a fast assessment of the near-field behaviour is needed. For this reason, a semi-analytical parameter model has been developed that reproduces the near-field sediment dispersion obtained with the CFD model in a relatively accurate way. In this paper, this so-called grey-box model is presented.

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