Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 83–100 | Cite as

Influence of morphological changes on suspended sediment dynamics in a macrotidal estuary: diachronic analysis in the Seine Estuary (France) from 1960 to 2010

  • Florent GrassoEmail author
  • Pierre Le Hir
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on the 14th International Conference on Cohesive Sediment Transport in Montevideo, Uruguay 13-17 November 2017


Estuaries are subject to extensive morphological changes through human activities, such as deepening and narrowing via dredging and channelization. The estuary sediment load, characterised by the estuarine turbidity maximum (ETM), can severely increase in response to channel deepening, shifting the estuary from a natural to hyperturbid state. The main processes driving the estuarine circulation, hydrology and sediment dynamics are relatively well known. However, their relative influence on suspended sediment concentration (SSC), as well as their role in the transition toward hyperturbid estuaries, is still a subject of debate. Therefore, this study aims at investigating the relative contribution of key estuarine drivers (gravitational circulation and tidal pumping mechanisms) on the ETM dynamics under significant estuary morphological changes. In a 3D numerical model of the Seine Estuary (France), three bathymetries from the last 50 years (1960, 1975 and 2010) were implemented, characterising the gradual estuary deepening and narrowing. The morphological changes induce an expected tidal amplification in the main channel, associated with a decrease of the tidal duration asymmetry. The salinity front slightly migrates up-estuary and the stratification strengthens, resulting in a higher and upper-estuary SSC distribution. Starting from a dominantly natural system driven by the tidal pumping mechanism in 1960, the contribution of the gravitational circulation strongly increased in the present-day anthropogenically-controlled system. Contrastingly, the maximum ETM mass barely changes with the morphological changes and dredging activities have hardly any influence. Hence, the maximum ETM mass in the Seine Estuary would principally result from the tidal forcing rather than the morphology.


Estuary deepening and narrowing Sediment dynamics Turbidity maximum Tidal asymmetry Stratification Numerical modelling Morphological changes 


Funding information

This study has been carried out in the framework of the ANPHYECO project funded by the scientific research programme Seine-Aval V. Nicolas Chini (ACRI-HE) and Jean-Philippe Lemoine (GIPSA, MESSCENE project) are warmly acknowledged for providing the 1960 and 1975 bathymetry configurations.


  1. Allen GP, Salomon J, Bassoullet P, Du Penhoat Y, De Grandpre C (1980) Effects of tides on mixing and suspended sediment transport in macrotidal estuaries. Sediment Geol 26:69–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amoudry LO, Ramirez-Mendoza R, Souza AJ, Brown JM (2014) Modelling-based assessment of suspended sediment dynamics in a hypertidal estuarine channel. Ocean Dyn 64:707–722. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Avoine J, Allen G, Nichols M, Salomon J, Larsonneur C (1981) Suspended-sediment transport in the Seine Estuary, France: effect of man-made modifications on estuary—shelf sedimentology. Mar Geol 40:119–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Becker M, Schrottke K, Bartholomä A, Ernstsen V, Winter C, Hebbeln D (2013) Formation and entrainment of fluid mud layers in troughs of subtidal dunes in an estuarine turbidity zone. J Geophys Res: Oceans 118:2175–2187. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bi Q, Toorman EA (2015) Mixed-sediment transport modelling in Scheldt estuary with a physics-based bottom friction law. Ocean Dyn 65:555–587. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brenon I, Le Hir P (1999) Modelling the turbidity maximum in the seine estuary (France): identification of formation processes. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 49:525–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burchard H, Hetland RD (2010) Quantifying the contributions of tidal straining and gravitational circulation to residual circulation in periodically stratified tidal estuaries. J Phys Oceanogr 40:1243–1262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burchard H, Schuttelaars H, Ralston D (2018) Sediment trapping in estuaries. Annu Rev Mar Sci 10:371–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chernetsky AS, Schuttelaars HM, Talke SA (2010) The effect of tidal asymmetry and temporal settling lag on sediment trapping in tidal estuaries. Ocean Dyn 60:1219–1241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cugier P, Le Hir P (2002) Development of a 3D hydrodynamic model for coastal ecosystem modelling. Application to the plume of the Seine River (France). Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 55:673–695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. de Jonge VN, Schuttelaars HM, van Beusekom JE, Talke SA, de Swart HE (2014) The influence of channel deepening on estuarine turbidity levels and dynamics, as exemplified by the Ems estuary. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 139:46–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deloffre J, Lafite R, Lesueur P, Lesourd S, Verney R, Guézennec L (2005) Sedimentary processes on an intertidal mudflat in the upper macrotidal seine estuary, France. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 64:710–720. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deloffre J, Verney R, Lafite R, Lesueur P, Lesourd S, Cundy AB (2007) Sedimentation on intertidal mudflats in the lower part of macrotidal estuaries: sedimentation rhythms and their preservation. Mar Geol 241:19–32. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dickhudt PJ, Friedrichs CT, Schaffner LC, Sanford LP (2009) Spatial and temporal variation in cohesive sediment erodibility in the York River estuary, eastern USA: a biologically influenced equilibrium modified by seasonal deposition. Mar Geol 267:128–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Donker JJ, de Swart HE (2013) Effects of bottom slope, flocculation and hindered settling on the coupled dynamics of currents and suspended sediment in highly turbid estuaries, a simple model. Ocean Dyn 63:311–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dronkers J (1986) Tide-induced residual transport of fine sediment physics of shallow estuaries and bays 228–244Google Scholar
  17. Dyer KR (1973) Estuaries: a physical introductionGoogle Scholar
  18. Friedrichs C, Armbrust B, De Swart H (1998) Hydrodynamics and equilibrium sediment dynamics of shallow, funnel-shaped tidal estuaries physics of estuaries and coastal seas 315–327Google Scholar
  19. Friedrichs CT (2010) Barotropic tides in channelized estuaries contemporary issues in estuarine physics 27–61Google Scholar
  20. Geyer WR (1993) The importance of suppression of turbulence by stratification on the estuarine turbidity maximum. Estuaries 16:113–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Geyer WR, MacCready P (2014) The estuarine circulation. In: Davis SH, Moin P (eds) Annual review of fluid mechanics, Vol 46. Annual review of fluid mechanics. Annual reviews, Palo Alto, pp 175–197.
  22. Gibson R, England G, Hussey M (1967) The theory of one-dimensional consolidation of saturated clays: 1. Finite non-linear consolidation of thin homogeneous layers. Geotechnique 17:261–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Glangeaud L (1938) Transport et sédimentation dans l’estuaire et à l’embouchure de la Gironde. Caractères pétrographiques des formations fluviatiles, saumâtres, littorales et néritiques. Bulletin de la Societe Geologique de France, Paris 7:599–630Google Scholar
  24. Grasso F, Le Hir P, Bassoullet P (2015) Numerical modelling of mixed-sediment consolidation. Ocean Dyn 65:607–616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grasso F, Verney R, le Hir P, Thouvenin B, Schulz E, Kervella Y, Khojasteh Pour Fard I, Lemoine JP, Dumas F, Garnier V (2018) Suspended sediment dynamics in the macrotidal seine estuary (France): 1. Numerical modeling of turbidity maximum dynamics. J Geophys Res: Oceans 123:558–577. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Guézennec L (1998) Hydrodynamique et transport en suspension du matériel particulaire fin dans la zone fluviale d’un estuaire macrotidal: l’exemple de l’estuaire de la Seine (France). RouenGoogle Scholar
  27. Jalón-Rojas I, Schmidt S, Sottolichio A (2015) Turbidity in the fluvial Gironde Estuary (southwest France) based on 10-year continuous monitoring: sensitivity to hydrological conditions. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 19:2805–2819. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jalón-Rojas I, Schmidt S, Sottolichio A, Bertier C (2016) Tracking the turbidity maximum zone in the Loire Estuary (France) based on a long-term, high-resolution and high-frequency monitoring network. Cont Shelf Res 117:1–11. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jay D, Musiak J (1994) Particle trapping in estuarine turbidity maxima. J Geophys Res 99:446–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Landemaine V (2016) Erosion des sols et transferts sédimentaires sur les bassins versants de l’Ouest du Bassin de Paris: analyse, quantification et modélisation à l’échelle pluriannelleGoogle Scholar
  31. Lanzoni S, Seminara G (1998) On tide propagation in convergent estuaries. J Geophys Res: Oceans 103:30793–30812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lazure P, Dumas F (2008) An external–internal mode coupling for a 3D hydrodynamical model for applications at regional scale (MARS). Adv Water Resour 31:233–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Le Hir P, Cayocca F, Waeles B (2011) Dynamics of sand and mud mixtures: a multiprocess-based modelling strategy. Cont Shelf Res 31:S135–S149. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Le Hir P et al (2001) Fine sediment transport and accumulations at the mouth of the Seine Estuary (France). Estuaries 24:950–963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Le Hir P, Silva Jacinto R (2007) Currents, waves and tides: water movements, vol Booklet N°2 of the Seine-Aval programme, Quae ed., 31pGoogle Scholar
  36. Le Hir P, Thouvenin B (1994) Mathematical modelling of cohesive sediment and particulate contaminants transport in the Loire Estuary Olsen & Olsen, Fredensborg, Denmark 71–78Google Scholar
  37. Lesourd S, Lesueur P, Fisson C, Dauvin J-C (2015) Sediment evolution in the mouth of the Seine estuary (France): a long-term monitoring during the last 150 years Comptes Rendus GeoscienceGoogle Scholar
  38. Marmin S, Dauvin JC, Lesueur P (2014) Collaborative approach for the management of harbour-dredged sediment in the Bay of Seine (France). Ocean Coastal Manag 102:328–339. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mengual B, Hir P, Cayocca F, Garlan T (2017) Modelling fine sediment dynamics: towards a common Erosion law for fine sand, mud and mixtures. Water 9:564. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Morris A, Mantoura R, Bale A, Howland R (1978) Very low salinity regions of estuaries: important sites for chemical and biological reactions. Nature 274:678–680CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nichols FH, Cloern JE, Luoma SN, Peterson DH (1986) The modification of an estuary. Science (Washington) 231:567–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nidzieko N, Ralston D (2012) Tidal asymmetry and velocity skew over tidal flats and shallow channels within a macrotidal river delta. J Geophys Res Oceans 117Google Scholar
  43. Nidzieko NJ (2010) Tidal asymmetry in estuaries with mixed semidiurnal/diurnal tides. J Geophys Res Oceans 115Google Scholar
  44. Partheniades E (1965) Erosion and deposition of cohesive soils. J Hydraul Div 91:105–139Google Scholar
  45. Postma H (1961) Transport and accumulation of suspended matter in the Dutch Wadden Sea. Neth J Sea Res 1:148–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schulz E, Grasso F, Le Hir P, Verney R, Thouvenin B (2018) Suspended sediment dynamics in the macrotidal Seine Estuary (France): 2. Numerical modeling of sediment fluxes and budgets under typical hydrological and meteorological conditions. J Geophys Res: Oceans 123:578–600. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Scully ME, Friedrichs CT (2007) Sediment pumping by tidal asymmetry in a partially mixed estuary. J Geophys Res Oceans 112Google Scholar
  48. Sommerfield CK, Wong KC (2011) Mechanisms of sediment flux and turbidity maintenance in the Delaware Estuary. J Geophys Res Oceans 116.
  49. Sottolichio A, Le Hir P, Castaing P (2000) Modeling mechanisms for the stability of the turbidity maximum in the Gironde estuary, France. Proc Mar Sci 3:373–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Talke SA, de Swart HE, Schuttelaars H (2009) Feedback between residual circulations and sediment distribution in highly turbid estuaries: an analytical model. Cont Shelf Res 29:119–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Toublanc F, Brenon I, Coulombier T (2016) Formation and structure of the turbidity maximum in the macrotidal Charente estuary (France): influence of fluvial and tidal forcing. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 169:1–14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Uncles R (2002) Estuarine physical processes research: some recent studies and progress. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 55:829–856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Van Leussen W (1994) Estuarine macroflocs and their role in fine-grained sediment transport. Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, National Institute for Coastal and Marine Management (RIKZ)Google Scholar
  54. Van Maren D, Winterwerp J (2013) The role of flow asymmetry and mud properties on tidal flat sedimentation. Cont Shelf Res 60:S71–S84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. van Maren DS, Winterwerp JC, Vroom J (2015) Fine sediment transport into the hyper-turbid lower Ems River: the role of channel deepening and sediment-induced drag reduction. Ocean Dyn 65:589–605. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Verney R, Deloffre J, Brun-Cottan JC, Lafite R (2007) The effect of wave-induced turbulence on intertidal mudflats: impact of boat traffic and wind. Cont Shelf Res 27:594–612. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Winterwerp JC (2011) Fine sediment transport by tidal asymmetry in the high-concentrated Ems River: indications for a regime shift in response to channel deepening. Ocean Dyn 61:203–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Winterwerp JC, Wang ZB (2013) Man-induced regime shifts in small estuaries—I: theory. Ocean Dyn 63:1279–1292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Winterwerp JC, Wang ZB, van Braeckel A, van Holland G, Kösters F (2013) Man-induced regime shifts in small estuaries—II: a comparison of rivers. Ocean Dyn 63:1293–1306CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre de BretagneIFREMER – DYNECO/DHYSEDPlouzanéFrance

Personalised recommendations