Surficial sediment distribution and the associated net sediment transport pattern in the Pearl River Estuary, South China

W. Zhang, J. Zheng, J. Xiaomei, A.J.F. Hoitink, M. van der Vegt, Y. Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial variations in grain-size parameters contain information on sediment transport patterns. Therefore, in this study, 106 surficial sediment samples taken from the Pearl River Estuary (PRE), South China, were analyzed, to better understand the net sediment transport pattern in this region. The PRE is an area of fine-grained sediment and shows muddy patches with relatively coarse sediment in the north. The sorting coefficient of surficial sediment over the whole estuary is higher than 2, indicating a very poor sorting in this region. The relationship between the sand, silt and clay contents of the sediments was analyzed by a log-ratio analysis, and it was indicated that the selective deposition is a non-linear function of the sediment mixture composition. The net sediment transport pathways indicate four distinct characteristics of sediment transport over the PRE. The sediment is transported obviously southeastward in the upper part of the estuary due to the relatively stronger fluvial dynamics and northwestward in the lower part, due to the stronger tidal dynamics. However, in the central part of the PRE, the sediment transport vectors display a clockwise rotation trend and net deposition is taking place, as indicated by the convergence of the grain size trend. The trend vectors show that some of the sedimentary material is supplied from upper and lower parts of the estuary to this depocenter. This result is consistent with the residual current circulation pattern near Neilingding Island. The patterns of sediment transport reveal directions with the main areas of deposition and possible dispersal patterns in the PRE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-51
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • grain-size trends
  • suspended sediment
  • organic-matter
  • delta
  • model
  • dynamics
  • paths
  • bay

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