The stability of tidal flats in Venice Lagoon: the results of in situ measurements using two benthic flumes (in special issue on Lagoon of Venice. Circulation, water exchange and ecosystem functioning)

Amos, C.L., Bergamasco, A., Umgiesser, G., Cappucci, S., Cloutier, D., Flindt, M., Denat, L. and Cristante, S. (2004) The stability of tidal flats in Venice Lagoon: the results of in situ measurements using two benthic flumes (in special issue on Lagoon of Venice. Circulation, water exchange and ecosystem functioning). Journal of Marine Systems, 51, (1-4), 211-242. (doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2004.05.013).


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Seabed properties in Venice Lagoon were examined in situ in two multidisciplinary field campaigns. The purpose of this study was to understand the mechanisms controlling the stability of bed types. Two benthic annular flumes (Sea Carousel and Mini Flume) were deployed simultaneously from a floating pontoon at 24 sites during summer (1998), which were considered representative of the range in bed/habitat types. As well, bottom sampling and coring, water-column monitoring and benthic habitat analyses were carried out. All but three sites were on cohesive sediments. Bed types included bare shelly mudflats and regions colonised by the seagrasses Cymodocea nodosa and Zostera noltii, by filamentous cyanobacteria, and by patches of the macrophytes Ulva rigida and Chaetomorpha sp. A subset (13) of these sites was visited during the subsequent winter to evaluate seasonal changes. Six of the sites were intertidal, the remainder were in the sublittoral zone.

Water temperature varied between 5 and 30 °C, and salinity varied between 20 and 38 psu. In the absence of waves, turbidity was generally low (<10 mg/l) and was composed of high amounts of organic matter (25–50%). This indicates that the tidal flows were not competent to support estuarine sediment. Higher levels of turbidity were measured during wind events or boat passage as a result of resuspension from the bed. Bed (saturated) density was, on average, 1770 kg/m3, which was extremely high for estuarine sediments.

Sea Carousel and Mini Flume provided comparable results, despite large differences in instrument footprints. Trends from the two instruments were similar and showed that summertime bed strength exceeded the winter by up to five times. Mean summer erosion thresholds for Sea Carousel and Mini Flume were 1.10 and 0.82 Pa, respectively, whereas during winter, they were 0.69 and 0.74 Pa. The northern lagoon had the most resistant tidal flats due to the stabilizing effect of filamentous cyanobacteria (Biostabilization Index: BI=244%), microphytobenthos (BI=153%) and Z. noltii (BI=206%). The stabilizing effects of C. nodosa (BI=74%), U. rigida (BI=115%) and shell debris (BI=115%) were intermediate, while bare sublittoral mud beds were the least resistant (BI=58%). Summer erosion rates (as a function of applied stress) were lower than winter ones, probably due to water temperature changes. The algorithm E=s, yielded good results and indicated that erosion rates in Venice Lagoon were high, notwithstanding the high erosion thresholds. The mean summertime friction coefficient was =62° and was highest in the central lagoon. The wintertime =69° showed that there was no seasonal fluctuation in bed stability. Mass settling in Venice Lagoon was a strong function of suspended sediment concentration (S) and a decay constant (k) of the exponential function S(t)=Soe?kt; it was found to be in continuity with examples from other locations worldwide (and therefore normal).

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2004.05.013
ISSNs: 0924-7963 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: benthic currents, benthic environment, measuring devices, sedimentation, intertidal flats, microtidal lagoons
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Ocean & Earth Science (SOC/SOES)
ePrint ID: 12583
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
November 2004Published
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2004
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 11:24

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