Controls on floc growth in an energetic tidal channel

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1] Measurements of turbulence and suspended particle characteristics have been made continuously for 9 tidal cycles in a shallow, energetic tidal channel. Particle-size spectra were measured with a LISST-100 laser diffraction instrument placed on a frame on the seabed. A 1200 kHz ADCP in the same frame was used to measure vertical current profiles and from these the turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate was determined using the structure function method. Median particle size is observed to change in a regular way by a factor of 3 or more over each tidal cycle, with the largest particles observed at slack tide and the smallest at times of maximum flood and ebb. The most likely explanation of this change is that particles are aggregating at times of low turbulence and breaking up during fast flows. A simple dynamical flocculation model that incorporates these processes gives good agreement with observations, particularly if tidal advection of a longitudinal gradient in particle size is allowed for. If particles have time to reach equilibrium with ambient conditions, the model predicts that the particle size will be proportional to the product of concentration and the Kolmogorov microscale. The observations support this prediction on most tidal cycles if a phase lag (of 30–60 min) is allowed between the measurements of particle size and Kolmogorov scale. This phase lag represents the adjustment time for flocs to respond to change in turbulence. The constant of proportionality between median particle size and Kolmogorov scale increases with particle volume.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Oceans
Issue numberC2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012
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