Physical control of sediment carbon content in an estuarine tidal flat system (Nanakita River, Japan): A mechanistic case study

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Temporal variations in sediment carbon content were tracked by sampling every 2 weeks for 6 to 33 months at 6 tidal flat stations with different carbon content levels (0.05-1.64%) in a single estuary. Three temporal series of current velocity at 5 cm above the sediment were also obtained. Non-cohesive and cohesive sediment stations differed in patterns of temporal variation in sediment carbon content, suggesting the difference in processes controlling sediment carbon content. In the stations of non-cohesive sandy sediment with relatively low carbon content (0.05-0.15%), sediment carbon content fluctuated within ranges specific to each station. In these stations, current velocity data suggested that frequency of sand resuspension washing out sediment carbon controls sediment carbon content level. In the stations of cohesive sediment with relatively high carbon content (0.77-1.64%), sediment carbon contents showed some unusual upward and downward peaks, recovered to usual levels specific to the stations, and was always kept higher than that in the non-cohesive sediment stations. We speculate that in the cohesive sediment stations, sand inputs may significantly control processes establishing the consolidated sediments with various carbon content levels. Spatial transitions from non-cohesive to cohesive sediments and from low to high sediment carbon contents likely occur as sand resuspension at spring tides become more irregular and less frequent. Based on these results, conceptual models describing physical processes controlling sediment carbon content at the studied stations were proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-791
Number of pages11
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jul


  • Nanakita River estuary
  • deposition and resuspension
  • non-cohesive and cohesive sediment
  • organic matter
  • sediment carbon content
  • temporal variation
  • tidal flat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science


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