Monitoring the effects of disposal of fine sediments from maintenance dredging on suspended particulate matter concentration in the Belgian nearshore area

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Fettweis, M. ; Baeye, M. ; Francken, F. ; Lauwaert, B. ; Van den Eynde, D. ; Van Lancker, V. ; Martens, C. ; Michielsen, T. (2012)

The impact of continuous disposal of fine-grained sediments from maintenance dredging works on the suspended particulate matter concentration in a shallow nearshore turbidity maximum was investigated during dredging experiment (port of Zeebrugge, southern North Sea). Before, during and after the experiment monitoring of SPM concentration using OBS and ADV altimetry was carried out at a location 5 km west of the disposal site. A statistical analysis, based on the concept of populations and sub-sampling, was applied to evaluate the effect. The data revealed that the SPM concentration near the bed was on average more than 2 times higher during the dredging experiment. The disposed material was mainly transported in the benthic layer and resulted in a long-term increase of SPM concentration and formation of fluid mud layers. The study shows that SPM concentration can be used as an indicator of environmental changes if representative time-series are available.
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