Sediment deposition from flocculated suspensions



Suspended sediment in coastal environments with high inorganic content have characteristic broad size distributions and are composed of both single grains and flocculated aggregates. These flocculated suspensions have stable size distributions the modal size of which is dependent on the modal size of the deflocculated single grain distributions. Comparison between theoretical settling speeds of quartz grains and the settling speed of particles in natural suspensions indicates that most grains smaller than the deflocculated single grain mode settle as part of flocs, whereas the particles larger than the mode settle as single grains. As a result the size distribution curves of sediment populations which settle out during consecutive intervals are composed of a modal peak of larger grains and a low flat portion of smaller grains and resemble the asymmetrical non-normal curves common for muddy sediments.