Use of continuous turbidity sensor in the prediction of fine sediment transport in the turbidity maximum of the Trent Estuary, UK

S.B. Mitchell, D.M. Lawler, J.R. West, J.S. Couperthwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Results from continuous monitoring of turbidity and water level at Burringham, on the tidal River Trent, UK, are presented for the period 18 May 1997 to 9 February 1998. These measurements, together with detailed readings of velocity and suspended sediment concentration over an individual tidal cycle near the opposite bank at Derrythorpe, help to describe the mechanisms and behaviour of the turbidity maximum (TM). It is demonstrated that there is a distinct pattern of fine sediment movement that reflects a predictable system response to changing hydraulic features. It is shown that the TM in this system is highly mobile, and its location depends on antecedent fresh water flow, and tidal range. Approximate representative flood and ebb tide suspended sediment concentrations of up to 13 g/l over this nine-month period have been derived from the data and plotted against fresh water flow and tidal range, in order to show the relationship between these parameters. Three semi-empirical polynomial regression models have been tested for goodness of fit against available data. It was found that a partitioning approach, whereby data are grouped into different categories depending on antecedent fresh water flow, yielded the lowest standard error for the period analysed. Analysis of detailed observations of suspended sediment concentration and velocity measured over an individual tidal cycle also help to elucidate the mechanism of tidal pumping within this system. These results also help to give an estimate of the relative magnitude of suspended sediment fluxes during typical low fresh water flow conditions. It is estimated that for low fresh water flow conditions, a typical spring tide can mobilise at least an order of magnitude more sediment than a neap tide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-652
Number of pages8
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003


  • Turbidity maximum
  • Macrotidal
  • Humber Estuary
  • Fine sediment transport
  • UK


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