Sutherland, T.F.; Amos, C.L., and Grant, J., 2022. The resuspension and deposition of biomediated sediments in Upper South Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada. Journal of Coastal Research, 38(1), 19–34. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
Coastal seabed sediment stability is mediated by microalgal and bacterial biofilms. The resuspension of organic suspended particulate matter (SPM) in biomediated sediments increases nutrient fluxes to the water column and supplements particulate food supplies for suspension feeders. Thus, quantifying benthic-pelagic exchange pathways of biogeochemical parameters is essential to provide an accurate assessment of carrying capacities of coastal embayments supporting both natural and cultured bivalve populations. Benthic-pelagic transport coefficients such as erosion threshold (U*CRIT-SPM-EROSION), net erosion rate (NERSPM), peak erosion rate (PERSPM), depositional threshold (U*CRIT-SPM-DEPOSITION), and deposition rate (DRSPM) were determined using an in situ benthic flume (Sea Carousel) in the protected inner termination of Upper South Cove (USC). The layered gel-like muddy seabed consisted of a thin biofilm or flocculated material overlying highly reduced black sediments. Eroded material was analyzed for concentrations of SPM, chlorophyll-a (CHL), phaeopigment (PHA), and organic/inorganic content. All stations exhibited a consistent pattern of staggered erosion thresholds of seabed constituents, where U*CRIT-SPM > U*CRIT-PHA > U*CRIT-CHL. Erosion thresholds of these sediment constituents were inversely related to NERSPM, NERCHL, and NERPHA fluxes as part of a principal component analysis. U*CRIT-SPM-EROSION was generally higher than U*CRIT-SPM-DEPOSITION across the individual USC stations, suggesting that SPM deposition largely occurs before erosion. A tight coupling was observed between both the mean NERSPM (1.37×10–3 kg m–2 s–1) and DRSPM (1.23×10–3 kg m–2 s–1) and the occurrence frequency between erosion (44.2%) and deposition (52.5%) phases derived from a 4-day U* time-series profile. Although these results highlight a tight benthic-pelagic coupling system in USC, some overlap appears to occur between the deposition and erosion phases, which can be attributed to the presence of diverse SPM size classes that alter during erosion (shearing) and velocity deceleration (floc-forming) processes. Benthic-pelagic coupling supports the sustained near-bottom turbidity conditions observed in USC.