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Sediment Properties and Transport Processes in Florida Bay

photo of scientist in the water collecting samples
Project Investigator: Robert B. Halley

Project Start Date: 1997 End Date: 1999


Summary

The objective of this research are to provide a better understanding of how and when sediments within Florida Bay are resuspended.

Beginning in the year 2000, in one of this nations largest environmental restoration attempts, an extensive infrastructure will be built by the ACOE and State of Florida to restore water quality to Florida Bay. Prior to that time, these agencies would like to understand the processes which have caused the decline in water quality in Florida Bay and using models, predict the success of alternative designs for restoration efforts. Recent evidence suggests the significance of sediment resuspension in the issues of increased turbidity, seagrass die-offs, and reoccurring algal blooms. Consensus among consulting experts is that sediment transport should be added to the circulation model being constructed. The data, maps, and understanding provided by this project is essential if resuspension of sediments in Florida Bay is to be incorporated into either model, and on a more fundamental level, to delineate the relationship between resuspension events and ecological changes in the Bay.

The objective of this research are to provide a better understanding of how and when sediments within Florida Bay are resuspended, to define the spatial distribution of sedimentary properties and bottom morphology which control resuspension, quantify resuspension on an annual basis and provide the empirically-derived data needed to incorporate sediment resuspension or transport into numerical models. Through our collaborative efforts with other agencies and researchers, we will also provide the data necessary to incorporate varying bottom friction into a circulation model. Furthermore, these data will contribute information required to delineate patterns of bathymetric change, predict the impacts of storms or seagrass mortality on turbidity, assess the contribution of nutrients during resuspension events and estimate sediment export as part of an overall sediment budget for Florida Bay.

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