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Assessment of the physical impact of a short-term dredging operation on a semi-enclosed environment: South Euboean Gulf, Greece

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Abstract

The potential influence of short-period (May–June 2012) dredging activities (for the installation of a submarine gas pipeline) on physical properties of the marine environment of two shallow-water sites in the Aliveri and Varnavas areas of South Euboean Gulf (Greece) has been evaluated. During the dredging operation in Varnavas, the induced dredge plume traveled up to ~ 750 m from the shoreline, featured by light attenuation coefficient (cp) maxima of 4.01–4.61 m−1 and suspended particulate matter (SPM) concentrations up to 6.01 mg L−1. After dredging the previous parameters reduced to the ambient seawater condition, ~ 0.45 m−1 and < 2.8 mg L−1 on average, respectively. Likewise in Aliveri, the dredging-associated sediment plume drifted offshore up to ~ 400 m from the shoreline, characterized by cp maxima of 2.11–4.86 m−1 and SPM concentrations up to 13.07 mg L−1. After the completion of the excavation and trenching activities, the cp and SPM values were restored to the pre-disturbance condition, ~ 0.6 m−1 and < 2.2 mg L−1 on average, respectively. The migration of the dredge plume in both dredging sites was accomplished through the formation of intermediate and benthic nepheloid layers, whose development and evolution were governed by seawater stratification and flow regime. The dredging-derived SPM levels appeared to increase within a distance of no more than 300 m from the shoreline (near-field zone). Based on data from the literature, this SPM enhancement together with the deposition of a post-dredging residual mud veneer in the near-field zone could deteriorate local marine biota, but in a reversible way.

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Acknowledgments

The raw data acquired for the fulfillment of the objectives of this investigation are stored in the database of the Institute of Oceanography of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, and they can be accessible only after a written permission provided by the Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator company.

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The present monitoring study was financially supported by the Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator company.

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Correspondence to Theodore D. Kanellopoulos.

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Kanellopoulos, T.D., Panagiotopoulos, I.P., Karageorgis, A.P. et al. Assessment of the physical impact of a short-term dredging operation on a semi-enclosed environment: South Euboean Gulf, Greece. Environ Monit Assess 192, 14 (2020) doi:10.1007/s10661-019-7998-7

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Keywords

  • Submarine pipeline trenching
  • Dredge plume
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Suspended particulate matter
  • Light attenuation coefficient