Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 1–14 | Cite as

Seasonal variations in the surficial sediment grain size in the East China Sea continental shelf and their implications for terrigenous sediment transport

  • Kaidi Zhang
  • Anchun LiEmail author
  • Jin Zhang
  • Jian Lu
  • Hongli Wang
Original Article


This study discusses the seasonal variations in surficial sediment grain size and their implications for sediment transport driven by the hydrodynamics in the East China Sea, based on grain size analysis of surficial sediments and salinity data collected from the East China Sea continental shelf during two cruises in 2011. The results show that the grain size distribution on the East China Sea continental shelf presents apparent spatial and seasonal variations. The mud area exhibits more variation than the sand area, which indicates that the sediment supply is the main factor controlling the surficial sediment grain size distribution on the East China Sea continental shelf. The grain size near the Yangtze River Estuary is relatively coarse in summer, because of the inherited characteristics from the previous winter, whereas it is much finer in autumn, due to the input of fine-grained materials during the flood period of the Yangtze River. A high fine-grained sediment concentration was found along the Zhejiang-Fujian coast in autumn when the Zhejiang-Fujian Coastal Current forms. The sediments in the northeast of the study region (the mud patch southwest of Cheju Island) are much coarser, and the fine-grained area is narrower in autumn than in summer because of seasonal variations in the Yellow Sea Coastal Current and the frequency of storms. Simultaneously, the tongue-shaped fine-grained cross shelf front located along the Zhejiang-Fujian coast occurs farther to the south in autumn than in summer. However, the surficial grain size distribution patterns on the middle and outer shelf are similar in the two seasons.


East China Sea continental shelf Seasonal variations Sediment grain size Surficial sediments 



We thank the editor Prof. Masanobu Yamamoto and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments, which greatly improved the manuscript. This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41430965, 41806056). We are grateful to the crew of R/V Science No. III for their hard work during the cruises.


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Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan and Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Marine Geology and Environment, Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Laboratory for Marine GeologyQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  3. 3.Center for Ocean Mega-ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesQingdaoChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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