Fluid Mud Formation in the Petitcodiac River, New Brunswick, Canada
Heath, Kristy Marie. “Fluid Mud Formation in the Petitcodiac River, New Brunswick, Canada”, Boston College, 2009. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/922.
Experiments were conducted in the Petitcodiac River in New Brunswick, Canada during June and August 2006 to study high-concentrations of suspended sediment in a turbulent system. This study will evaluate the conditions necessary for fluid mud formation by investigating 1) the suppression of turbulence at gradient Richardson numbers greater than 0.25; 2) a threshold condition for the amount of sediment a flow can maintain in a turbulent suspension; and 3) the influence of flocculation on vertical suspended-sediment transport. Direct measurements of salinity, temperature, current velocity, and suspended-sediment concentration were collected during accelerating and decelerating flows and when fluid mud formed. In June, current velocities were typically above 1 m s-1 and suspended-sediment concentrations were generally less than 10 g l -1. In August, current velocities were typically less than 1.5 m s-1, suspended-sediment concentrations were greater than 10 g l -1, and a high-concentration bottom layer formed rapidly during decelerating flood currents. Gradient Richardson numbers for concentrations greater than 10 g l -1 were generally greater than 0.25, suggesting strong density gradients have the ability to suppress turbulence. Results from the Petitcodiac suggest a carrying capacity threshold might exist, but is based on a critical gradient Richardson number between 1.0 and 2.0 rather than the previously accepted value of 0.25. Differences in the evolution of disaggregated grain size distributions for settling suspensions suggest flocculation plays an important role for fluid mud formation by enhancing settling of fine sediments.