Journal of Oceanology and Limnology

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 1216–1235 | Cite as

A method for simulating sediment incipient motion varying with time and space in an ocean model (FVCOM): development and validation

  • Zichen Zhu (朱子晨)
  • Yongzhi Wang (王勇智)
  • Shuhua Bian (边淑华)
  • Zejian Hu (胡泽建)
  • Jianqiang Liu (刘建强)
  • Lejun Liu (刘乐军)


We modified the sediment incipient motion in a numerical model and evaluated the impact of this modification using a study case of the coastal area around Weihai, China. The modified and unmodified versions of the model were validated by comparing simulated and observed data of currents, waves, and suspended sediment concentrations (SSC) measured from July 25th to July 26th, 2006. A fitted Shields diagram was introduced into the sediment model so that the critical erosional shear stress could vary with time. Thus, the simulated SSC patterns were improved to more closely reflect the observed values, so that the relative error of the variation range decreased by up to 34.5% and the relative error of simulated temporally averaged SSC decreased by up to 36%. In the modified model, the critical shear stress values of the simulated silt with a diameter of 0.035 mm and mud with a diameter of 0.004 mm varied from 0.05 to 0.13 N/m2, and from 0.05 to 0.14 N/m2, respectively, instead of remaining constant in the unmodified model. Besides, a method of applying spatially varying fractions of the mixed grain size sediment improved the simulated SSC distribution to fit better to the remote sensing map and reproduced the zonal area with high SSC between Heini Bay and the erosion groove in the modified model. The Relative Mean Absolute Error was reduced by between 6% and 79%, depending on the regional attributes when we used the modified method to simulate incipient sediment motion. But the modification achieved the higher accuracy in this study at a cost of computation speed decreasing by 1.52%.


sediment model incipient motion suspended load critical shear stress for erosion fraction of mixed grain size sediment 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The authors appreciate the helpful comments and suggestions provided by Mr. CHI Wanqing and Doctor ZENG Ming. The advices helped us with improving this paper.


  1. Aldridge J N. 1996. Optimal fitting of a model to observations of sediment concentrations in the Irish Sea. In: Spalding M L, Cheng R T eds. Estuarine and Coastal Modelling Proceedings of the 4th international conference. American Society of Civil Engineers, San Diego, USA. p.417–428.Google Scholar
  2. Amos C L, Umgiesser G, Ferrarin C, Thompson C E L, Whitehouse R J S, Sutherland T F, Bergamasco A. 2010. The erosion rates of cohesive sediments in Venice lagoon, Italy. Continental Shelf Research, 30 (8): 859–870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andersen T J, Fredsoe J, Pejrup M. 2007. In situ estimation of erosion and deposition thresholds by Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (ADV). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 75 (3): 327–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ariathurai R, Arulanandan K. 1978. Erosion rates of cohesive soils. Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 104 (2): 279–283.Google Scholar
  5. Bass S J, Aldridge J N, Mccave I N, Vincent C E. 2002. Phase relationships between fine sediment suspensions and tidal currents in coastal seas. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 107 (C10): 10-1-10-14.Google Scholar
  6. Berlamont J, Ockenden M, Toorman E, Winterwerp J. 1993. The characterisation of cohesive sediment properties. Coastal Engineering, 21 (1–3): 105–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bian S H, Hu Z J, Liu J Q, Zhu Z C. 2017. Sediment suspension and the dynamic mechanism during storms in the Yellow River Delta. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 189 (1): 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Booij N, Ris R C, Holthuijsen L H. 1999. A third-generation wave model for coastal regions: 1. Model description and validation. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 104 (C4): 7 649–7 666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buffington, J M. 2000. The Legend of A. F. Shields. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 125 (4): 376–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bui M D, Hans H B, Horst K. 2005. Morphological numerical simulation of flood situations in the Danube River. International Journal of River Basin Management, 3 (4): 283–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cao Z X, Pender G, Meng J. 2006. Explicit formulation of the Shields diagram for incipient motion of sediment. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 132 (10): 1 097–1 099.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carniello L, Defina A, D’Alpaos L. 2012. Modeling sand-mud transport induced by tidal currents and wind waves in shallow microtidal basins: application to the Venice Lagoon (Italy). Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, 102–103: 105–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chao X B, Jia Y F, Shields Jr F D, Wang S S Y, Cooper C M. 2008. Three-dimensional numerical modeling of cohesive sediment transport and wind wave impact in a shallow oxbow lake. Advances in Water Resources, 31 (7): 1 004–1 014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chen C S, Beardsley R C, Cowles G et al. 2013. An unstructured grid, finite-volume community ocean model FVCOM user manual, SMAST/UMASSD-13-0701. New Bedford, Mass. Google Scholar
  15. Chen C S, Beardsley R C, Cowles G. 2006. An unstructured grid, finite-volume coastal ocean model (FVCOM) system. Oceanography, 19 (1): 78–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chen J Y, Li D J, Chen B L, Hu F X, Zhu H F, Liu C Z. 1999. The processes of dynamic sedimentation in the Changjiang Estuary. Journal of Sea Research, 41 (1–2): 129–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chen S L, Zhang G A, Yang S L, Yu Z Y. 2004. Temporal and spatial changes of suspended sediment concentration and resuspension in the Yangtze River Estuary and its adjacent waters. Acta Geographica Sinica, 59 (2): 260–266. (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  18. Dai Q, Liu C J, Hu J, Zhang Z H. 2014. Study on the curvefitting for the Shields diagram and its uncertainty. Journal of Sediment Research, (6): 19–24. (in Chinese with English abstract).Google Scholar
  19. de Linares M, Belleudy P. 2007. Critical shear stress of bimodal sediment in sand-gravel rivers. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 133 (5): 555–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dohmen-Janssen C M. 1999. Grain Size Influence on Sediment Transport in Oscillatory Sheet Flow, Phase-Lags and Mobile-Bed Effects. Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands. p.150–151.Google Scholar
  21. Droppo I G, D’Andrea L, Krishnappan B G, Jaskot C, Trapp B, Basuvaraj M, Liss S N. 2015. Fine-sediment dynamics: towards an improved understanding of sediment erosion and transport. Journal of Soils and Sediments, 15 (2): 467–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Duc B M, Bernhart H H, Kleemeier H. 2005. Morphological numerical simulation of flood situations in the Danube River. International Journal of River Basin Management, 3 (4): 283–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fettweis M. 2008. Uncertainty of excess density and settling velocity of mud flocs derived from in situ measurements. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 78 (2): 426–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ge J Z, Chen C S, Qi J H, Ding P X, Beardsley R C. 2012. A dike-groyne algorithm in a terrain-following coordinate ocean model (FVCOM): development, validation and application. Ocean Modelling, 47: 26–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ge J Z, Shen F, Guo W Y, Chen C S, Ding P X. 2015. Estimation of critical shear stress for erosion in the Changjiang Estuary: a synergy research of observation, GOCI sensing and modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 120 (12): 8 439–8 465.Google Scholar
  26. Heath M, Sabatino A, Serpetti N, Murray R O. 2015. Scoping the impact tidal and wave energy extraction on suspended sediment concentrations and underwater light climate. Terawatt Position Papers.Google Scholar
  27. Houwing E J, van Rijn L C. 1998. In Situ Erosion Flume (ISEF): determination of bed-shear stress and erosion of a kaolinite bed. Journal of Sea Research, 39 (3–4): 243–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Houwing E J. 1999. Determination of the critical erosion threshold of cohesive sediments on intertidal mudflats along the Dutch Wadden Sea Coast. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 49 (4): 545–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jacobs W, Le Hir P, van Kesteren W, Cann P. 2011. Erosion threshold of sand-mud mixtures. Continental Shelf Research, 31 (S10): S14-S25.Google Scholar
  30. Jago C F, Jones S E. 1998. Observation and modelling of the dynamics of benthic fluffresuspended from a sandy bed in the southern North Sea. Continental Shelf Research, 18 (11): 1 255–1 282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kennedy J F. 1995. The albert shields story. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 121 (11): 766–772.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kim S C, Friedrichs C T, Maa J P Y, Wright L D. 2000. Estimating bottom stress in tidal boundary layer from acoustic Doppler velocimeter data. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 126 (6): 399–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lanuru M. 2008. Measuring critical erosion shear stress of intertidal sediments with eromes erosion device. Fakultas Ilmu Kelautan Dan Perikanan Unhas, 18 (5): 390–397.Google Scholar
  34. Liu Y X, Huang H J, Fan J Y, Yang S J. 2009. Detection of distribution change and diffusion of suspended sediment concentration around Heini Bay. Marine Sciences, 33 (1): 25–29. (in Chinese with English abstract).Google Scholar
  35. Lumborg U, Windelin A. 2003. Hydrography and cohesive sediment modelling: application to the Rømø Dyb tidal area. Journal of Marine Systems, 38 (3–4): 287–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lund-Hansen L C, Christiansen C, Jensen O, Laima M. 1999. The LABEREX chamber for studying the critical shear stress for fine-grained sediment. Geografisk Tidsskrift-Danish Journal of Geography, 99 (1): 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pouv K S, Besq A, Guillou S S, Toorman E A. 2014. On cohesive sediment erosion: a first experimental study of the local processes using transparent model materials. Advances in Water Resources, 72: 71–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Prandle D. 1997. Tidal characteristics of suspended sediment concentrations. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 123 (4): 341–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pritchard D. 2005. Suspended sediment transport along an idealised tidal embayment: settling lag, residual transport and the interpretation of tidal signals. Ocean Dynamics, 55 (2): 124–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schmelter M L, Wilcock P, Hooten M, Stevens D K. 2015. Multi-fraction Bayesian sediment transport model. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 3 (3): 1 066–1 092.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Soulsby R L, Whitehouse R J S W. 1997. Threshold of sediment motion in coastal environments. In: Pacific Coasts and Ports. Christchurch, New Zealand. p.149–154.Google Scholar
  42. State Oceanic Administration, National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation. 1990. Atlas of China’s coastal zones and tideland resources survey: The second volume of Shandong Province. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  43. SWAN Team. 2006. SWAN Cycle III version 40.51. SWAN technical documentation. Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  44. van Rijn L C, Walstra D J R, Grasmeijer B et al. 2003. The predictability of cross-shore bed evolution of sandy beaches at the time scale of storms and seasons using process-based Profile models. Coastal Engineering, 47 (3): 295–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Vanoni V A. 1964. Measurements of critical shear stress for entraining fine sediments in a boundary layer. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.Google Scholar
  46. Warner J C, Sherwood C R, Signell R P, Harris C K, Arango H G. 2008. Development of a three-dimensional, regional, coupled wave, current, and sediment-transport model. Computers & Geosciences, 34 (10): 1 284–1 306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Williamson H, Ockenden M. 1996. ISIS: an instrument for measuring erosion shear stress in situ. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 42 (1): 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Winterwerp J C, Manning A J, Martens C, de Mulder T, Vanlede J. 2006. A heuristic formula for turbulenceinduced flocculation of cohesive sediment. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 68 (1–2): 195–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Xie M X, Zhang W, Guo W J. 2010. A validation concept for cohesive sediment transport model and application on Lianyungang harbor, China. Coastal Engineering, 57 (6): 585–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yamashita S, Nakajo T, Naruse H. 2009. Reconstruction of sediment transport pathways in modern microtidal sand flat by multiple classification analysis. Acer National & International Surveys, 2.Google Scholar
  51. Yin C, Huang H J, Yan L W. 2013. Numerical simulation of random wave-induced erosion and deposition pattern in the Heini Bay. Marine Geology Frontiers, 29 (5): 6–12. (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  52. Yin C. 2013. Numerical Simulation on Random Wave-Induced Erosion and Evolution in the Heini Bay. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, China. p.18–19. (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  53. Zhang Z H, Huang H J, Liu Y X, Yan L W, Wang E K. 2016. Effects of suspended culture of the seaweed Laminaria Japonica Aresch on the flow structure and suspended sediment transport. Advances in Marine Science, 34 (1): 37–49. (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chinese Society for Oceanology and Limnology, Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zichen Zhu (朱子晨)
    • 1
  • Yongzhi Wang (王勇智)
    • 1
  • Shuhua Bian (边淑华)
    • 1
  • Zejian Hu (胡泽建)
    • 1
  • Jianqiang Liu (刘建强)
    • 1
  • Lejun Liu (刘乐军)
    • 1
  1. 1.The First Institute of OceanographicState Oceanic AdministrationQingdaoChina

Personalised recommendations