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Effect of Tidal Stage on Sediment Concentrations and Turbulence by Vessel Wake in a Coastal Plain Saltmarsh

U. S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, 3909 Halls Ferry Road, Vicksburg, MS 39180, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2019, 7(6), 192;
Received: 9 May 2019 / Revised: 13 June 2019 / Accepted: 17 June 2019 / Published: 22 June 2019
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Vessel generated waves can impact shoreline stability and habitat structure in many waterways. Sheltered regions, such as coastal plain saltmarshes, support fragile ecosystems and can be particularly vulnerable to the effects of unregulated vessel operations. Instruments for measuring currents and sediment concentration were deployed in a coastal plain saltmarsh to examine the small-scale physical characteristics of the vessel wake generated by recreational craft typical of this environment. The response to vessel wake varied sharply depending upon the stage of the tide. At low tide, waves breaking on the exposed bank produced high concentrations of suspended material that were transported offshore through turbulent diffusion. When the water elevation exceeded the toe of the marsh scarp, the concentration and turbulent kinetic energy exhibited less of a statistically significant variation in response to vessel passage. For the most energetic flows, the vessel orbital velocities were dwarfed by turbulent fluctuations generated by the sheared tidal boundary layer. While further research is required, preliminary findings indicate that the dissipation of vessel wake energy may stimulate or enhance shear generated turbulence if the characteristic wave period is similar to the characteristic time scale of the energy containing eddies. View Full-Text
Keywords: vessel wake; saltmarsh; turbulence; sediment dynamics; tides vessel wake; saltmarsh; turbulence; sediment dynamics; tides

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Styles, R.; Hartman, M.A. Effect of Tidal Stage on Sediment Concentrations and Turbulence by Vessel Wake in a Coastal Plain Saltmarsh. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2019, 7, 192.

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