Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 66, Issue 11, pp 1497–1516 | Cite as

The impact of disposal of fine-grained sediments from maintenance dredging works on SPM concentration and fluid mud in and outside the harbor of Zeebrugge

  • Michael Fettweis
  • Matthias Baeye
  • Claudio Cardoso
  • Arvid Dujardin
  • Brigitte Lauwaert
  • Dries Van den Eynde
  • Thomas Van Hoestenberghe
  • Joris Vanlede
  • Luc Van Poucke
  • Carlos Velez
  • Chantal Martens
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on the 13th International Conference on Cohesive Sediment Transport in Leuven, Belgium 7-11 September 2015


The amount of sediments to be dredged and disposed depends to a large part on the suspended particulate matter (SPM) concentration. Tidal, meteorological, climatological, and seasonal forcings have an influence on the horizontal and vertical distribution of the SPM in the water column and on the bed and control the inflow of fine-grained sediments towards harbors and navigation channels. About 3 million tons (dry matter) per year of mainly fine-grained sediments is dredged in the port of Zeebrugge and is disposed on a nearby disposal site. The disposed sediments are quickly resuspended and transported away from the site. The hypothesis is that a significant part of the disposed sediments recirculates back to the dredging places and that a relocation of the disposal site to another location at equal distance to the dredging area would reduce this recirculation. In order to validate the hypothesis, a 1-year field study was set up in 2013–2014. During 1 month, the dredged material was disposed at a new site. Variations in SPM concentration were related to tides, storms, seasonal changes, and human impacts. In the high-turbidity Belgian near-shore area, the natural forcings are responsible for the major variability in the SPM concentration signal, while disposal has only a smaller influence. The conclusion from the measurements is that the SPM concentration decreases after relocation of the disposal site but indicate stronger (first half of field experiment) or weaker (second half of field experiment) effects that are, however, supported by the environmental conditions. The results of the field study may have consequences on the management of disposal operations as the effectiveness of the disposal site depends on environmental conditions, which are inherently associated with chaotic behavior.


SPM concentration Dredging and disposal operations Long-term observational time series 



The study was supported by the Maritime Access Division of the Flemish Ministry of Mobility and Public Works (MOMO project and contracts 16EF/2011/35 and WL_12_10). Ship Time RV Belgica was provided by BELSPO and RBINS—Operational Directorate Natural Environment. The wave and wind data are from Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services-Coastal Division (Flemish Ministry of Mobility and Public Works). We thank L. Naudts, J. Backers, W. Vanhaverbeke, and K. Hindryckx for all technical aspects of instrumentation and moorings and F. Francken for data processing and archiving of the measurements.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Fettweis
    • 1
  • Matthias Baeye
    • 1
  • Claudio Cardoso
    • 2
  • Arvid Dujardin
    • 2
    • 3
  • Brigitte Lauwaert
    • 1
  • Dries Van den Eynde
    • 1
  • Thomas Van Hoestenberghe
    • 2
    • 4
  • Joris Vanlede
    • 3
    • 5
  • Luc Van Poucke
    • 2
  • Carlos Velez
    • 2
  • Chantal Martens
    • 6
  1. 1.Royal Belgian Institute of Natural SciencesOperational Directorate Natural EnvironmentBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Antea GroupGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Mobility and Public WorksFlanders Hydraulics ResearchAntwerpBelgium
  4. 4.FluvesGhentBelgium
  5. 5.Faculty of Civil Engineering and GeosciencesDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Department of Mobility and Public WorksMaritime Access DivisionAntwerpBelgium

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