Sediment Erodibility in Northern Chesapeake Bay
Bottom sediments in the Bay system are subjected to physical forces (e.g., tides, waves and winds) that can scour or erode sediment particles from the surface back into the water. This process of erosion and suspension in the water occurs over and over again. Contaminants can bind to sediment particles and thus be recycled as well. Suspended particles can become dense enough to affect nutrient cycling and so darken waters that light cannot reach submerged grasses, an important source of bottom-water oxygen. Though these effects on water quality are significant, ecosystem models designed to predict the outcome of management actions on water quality have not had the mathematical tools to model the effects of suspended sediments. Larry Sanford and his colleagues have been developing those tools. In this project, they will conduct laboratory and field experiments in order to compare two different measurement techniques; in addition, they will assess a new mathematical formulation for predicting the accuracy of these techniques, which could enable them to extrapolate their methods to other regions in the Chesapeake.
Larry Sanford and Jeffrey Cornwel
Horn Point Laboratory
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Jerome P.-Y. Maa
Virginia Institute of Marine Science