Quantifying and characterizing contemporary riparian sedimentation

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Fluvial processes of erosion, sediment transport and deposition determine the changing form and sedimentary structure of naturally adjusting riparian zones. Riparian sediment storage has both scientific and management importance in relation to: (i) the quantities of sediment that are involved; (ii) the quality of the sediment; and (iii) the dispersal of biological materials, notably the vegetation propagules that are transported and deposited in association with the sediment. After discussing the significance of riparian sedimentation processes, this paper reviews methods for quantifying contemporary sediment deposition within water bodies and their margins. Methods for investigating contemporary riparian sedimentation are given particular emphasis, and the extent to which different methods provide comparable estimates and have been used to support the analysis of different physical and chemical properties of the sediment are outlined. The importance of the following are stressed: (i) selecting a sampling method that is suited to the sedimentation environment; (ii) incorporating careful cross-calibration if measurements from different methods are to be combined; and (iii) replicating measurements to give more robust estimates if small traps are employed. It is concluded that artificial turf mats provide a useful design of sediment trap across a range of environmental conditions because: (i) their surface roughness reduces problems of sediment removal by flood waters or rainfall; (ii) their pliability permits installation on irregular surfaces; (iii) they can be securely attached to the ground with metal pins to resist high shear stresses from river flows; (iv) they are robust and light and so easily manipulated in the field and laboratory; (v) it is,possible to fully recover the deposited sediment to accurately determine the amount of sediment deposited and to support a range of other analyses. Results are presented to illustrate how artificial turf mats can be used to estimate the quantity and quality of deposited sediment and to explore the associated deposition of viable seeds. This provides one example of the important hydroecological role of riparian sedimentation processes and of the potential for the development of innovative, interdisciplinary research on riparian sediment dynamics. Copyright (C) 2003 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335 - 352
Number of pages18
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003


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