Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Special report in applied marine science and ocean engineering ; no. 252.


More sediment, nutrients and pollutants are discharged into an estuary during a few days of flood inflow than during many months or years of average inflow (Meade, 1972; Schubel, 1977), but few observations document the sedimentary response of an estuary to high freshwater inflow. Such inflows are usually unexpected and estuarine water charact~ristics change too rapidly to permit systematic measurements. Moreover, the expenditure of effort and number of sampling vessels required on short notice is beyond the resources of a single research group or institute. Yet, freshwater inflow observations are a key to improving water quality; especially to ameliorate the effects of high turbidity, depleted oxygen and low salinity which can cause oyster motalities (Zaborski and Haven, 1980). Many si9nificant ecological effects are noted by Snedakar, et al., 1977. Exceptional sediment deposition shoals shipping channels, fills boat basins, and blanke~ts oyster grounds. Suspended sediments adsorb toxic contaminates, nutrients and organic matter, and thus can affect plant production and the distribution of shellfish, plants and other life.

The HIFLO experiment was planned to observe and evaluate the response of an estuary to high freshwater inflow and high influx of suspended sediment. Of special interest are the questions: How far seaward does the sediment load from an event go before settling to the bed? How do the hydrodynamic conditions for sediment transport change? What is the sequence of estuarine processes triggered by a river flood?


Co-published as Chesapeake Research Consortium publication ; no. 95.



Suspended sediments -- Virginia -- Rappahannock River Estuary;Sedimentation and deposition -- Virginia -- Rappahannock River Estuary;Sedimentation and deposition -- Virginia -- Rappahannock River Estuary;

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