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Institut für Wasser- und Umweltsystemmodellierung - IWS



"Physico-chemical and biological sediment properties determining erosion resistance of contaminated riverine sediments – Temporal and vertical pattern at the Lauffen reservoir/River Neckar, Germany"

In order to contribute to a reliable, easy-to-handle and economically viable erosion risk assessment of contaminated riverine sites, the present study aims to implement master-variables best characterising the sediment stability. Thus, a wide range of sediment properties was related to the critical shear stress for mass erosion, determined in the SETEG (Stroemungskanal zur Ermittlung der tiefenabhaengigen Erosionsstabilitaet von Gewaessersedimenten) pressurised channel, with special emphasis on vertical and temporal gradients in the Lauffen reservoir on the River Neckar. Over the course of 1 year, positive impacts of some macrofauna species and benthic diatoms on the sediment stability were detected for the sediment surface (0.5 cm). However, a high seasonal variability of biological parameters caused varying relations with erosion resistance in the upper sediment layers as shown for the colloidal carbohydrates. Considering only deeper sediment layers (5–35 cm), a more general pattern could be revealed with correlations between the critical shear stress and single sediment properties such as depth, grain size, total organic carbon (TOC), cation exchange coefficient (CEC), carbohydrates and proteins. Firstly, the influence of physico-chemical and biological properties on erosion resistance became evident, even over depths at 0–35 cm. Secondly, inter-particle forces are most important for erosion resistance. These are enhanced in fine-grained sediment layers, offering high binding capacities but also strengthened by polymeric substances permeating the void space and coating particles. These covariance patterns of sedimentological and biological parameters are addressed by multivariate statistical tests (principal component analysis), resulting in a higher magnitude of the correlation coefficient between critical shear stress and the master-variables in main component II (polymeric substances, grain size, TOC, CEC; R=0.77) compared to single correlations.

Keywords: River; Sediment stability; Critical shear stress; Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS); Benthic diatoms; Microbial biomass; Principal component analysis (PCA)