Hypopycnal sediment plume

sediment transport


Initial contribute: 2021-09-09


University of Colorado
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Application-focused categoriesNatural-perspectiveOcean regions

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  Plume simulates hypopycnal plumes generated by a river draining its suspended sediment load into a receiving basin. Satellite images of any river-delta emphasize the importance of river plumes. A plume’s behavior is dependent on the density contrast between the river water and the standing water (Albertson, 1950; Bates, 1953). Ocean water has a high density, and the plumes often flow buoyantly on the surface (hypopycnal). Another complementary model that deals with more rare hyperpycnal flows is Sakura. The river’s sediment concentration adds density to the freshwater, but usually the effluent remains below the density of seawater. The shape that a hypopycnal plume will have, depends on a variety of factors:

  1. Angle between the river course and the coastline
  2. Strength and direction of the coastal current
  3. Wind direction influencing local upwelling or downwelling
  4. Mixing tidal or storm energy near the river mouth
  5. Latitude and thus the strength of the Coriolis effect.

  The plume equations follow those of Albertson (1950) developed for a jet flowing into a steady receiving basin. Plumes of similar shape but differing concentrations result for each grain size in the model. Fine sand will generally settle rapidly, whereas clay can travel much larger distances. Naturally, this affects the geometry of the deposited sediments on the basin floor.

Plumetheory coarseandfine.jpg

  River dimensions, i.e. the channel width, depth and velocity at the river mouth are input conditions. In addition, river sediment concentration and settling velocities for specific grain size classes are input parameters as well. Plume is a steady-state model, meaning that it simulates constant input conditions, representative of a 'unit' event.

  River dimensions for plume range over orders of magnitude, small streams of only a few meters wide have been run, as well as large continental scale rivers (for example the Ganges-Brahmaputra). Consequently, the spatial resolution of the grid is highly variable depending on the modeling objective. If plume is used in stand-alone mode, it runs events of a single day. If you are interested in exploring deposits of changing plumes over time you will need to use the PLUME model within the framework of the stratigraphic model Sedflux.





Initial contribute : 2021-09-09



University of Colorado
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