, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 156-165

Short-term water quality variability in two tropical estuaries, central Sumatra

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Abstract

We examined high frequency fluctuations in water quality parameters in two tropical coastal plain estuaries in response to changing tidal flow conditions. The variability in total suspended sediments (TSS), volatile suspended solids (VSS), total organic carbon (TOC) concentrations, and indicators of water quality, including pH, temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen, over one spring tidal cycle during the early wet monsoon season was measured in two estuaries in eastern Sumatra. The relatively high rainfall experienced throughout the year, in combination with the recent extensive vegetation clearing and modification of the landscape, resulted in significant concentrations of TSS, VSS, and TOC being discharged to coastal waters. Maximum values are reached on the ebb tide (TSS > 1,013 mg l−1; VSS > 800 mg l−1; TOC >60 mg l−1). The influence of freshwater discharge and tidal flow on water properties of the lower estuaries is also marked by the variability in salinity, dissolved oxygen, and pH over the tidal cycle, with minimum values for each of these parameters following maximum current velocities and after the completion of the strong ebb tide. Estimation of seaward sediment fluxes, which are of significant interest in a region where rapid environmental change is occurring, would require further examination of sedimentary processes, such as resuspension and advection of sediment, as well as a consideration of neap-spring tidal variations and the effect of seasonality on estuarine circulation.