Modelling the transport of sediment discharged by Colombian rivers to the southern Caribbean Sea

Andrea Devis-Morales, Efraín Rodríguez-Rubio, Raúl Andrés Montoya-Sánchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The three-dimensional transport of sediments released by the main rivers in the Colombian Caribbean basin is investigated using numerical model simulations. Different types of sediments (fine sands, very fine sands and coarse silts) were tracked by implementing SedimentDrift software, a subclass of the OpenDrift open-source trajectory framework. The simulations were forced with climatological winds from ERA-5 and currents from the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS). In situ measurements from the area were utilised in the evaluation of the forcing fields. The diagnostic analysis of ERA-5 and CMEMS at the evaluated stations in the Colombian basin led to the conclusion that these datasets are reliable; hence, they can be used for several oceanographic and coastal engineering studies. The sediment transport of non-cohesive particles at each river mouth is subject to the variability of local hydrodynamics, morphological features and the grain size, which determines the settling velocities. These factors were considered and evaluated in detail. Given the lack of available in situ information, the performance of the Lagrangian model is evaluated by comparing the resulting simulations with previous studies reported in the area for river plume dynamics. However, this study presents an initial analysis of the pathways that sediments of different sizes follow, from the river mouth to the seafloor. This approach is convenient given that the Colombian rivers deliver large amounts of sediment of various grain sizes, there are insufficient in situ data to assess the seasonal cycle of sediment transport and many aspects of the sediment dynamics are not fully resolved. The resulting simulations provide evidence of the importance of high-resolution ocean current data, given that this is the main factor determining the trajectories and dispersion patterns at seasonal scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-277
Number of pages27
JournalOcean Dynamics
Volume71
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography

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