, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 521-531
Date: 28 Dec 2005

The effects of tidally-driven temporal variation on measuring intertidal cohesive sediment erosion threshold

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Accurate measurement of intertidal sediment erodibility is essential for the development of meaningful and accurate models of sediment dynamics. Despite considerable advances in technology and methodology, the measurement of cohesive intertidal sediment erosion remains problematic. Sediment erodibility varies according to both physical and biological properties and processes. These cannot be considered in isolation, as they can interact to create both positive and negative feedbacks, resulting in seemingly idiosyncratic responses in the system. If working models of estuarine sediment dynamics are to be made, it is essential that the influence of these processes on both the measurements and the system itself be considered. Recent developments in measurement technology enable rapid measurement of sediment stability allowing temporal and spatial variability to be measured on a time scale of minutes. This paper reports temporal variability in cohesive intertidal sediment erosion threshold related to immersion and emersion, and the concomitant responses in selected sediment properties (carbohydrates, water content and chlorophyll). Erosion threshold tended to increase over emersion and decrease over immersion, although the patterns of change varied depending upon local conditions, and in one case there was no temporal trend. Temporal changes resulted in a range of measured erosion threshold, dependant upon the erosion device used. Modifications to existing methodology, in order to account for this variation, are proposed and implications for modelling erosion processes are considered.