Observations of turbidity in the Thames Estuary, United Kingdom

Steve Mitchell, L. Akesson, R. Uncles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two years of data of water level, salinity and turbidity have been analysed to understand the response of the estuarine turbidity maximum in the Thames to variations in tidal range and freshwater flow. We show the increase in turbidity in spring, together with a sudden decrease in autumn after fluvial flooding. In order to try to understand the mechanisms, we also present data from individual tides. During dry periods, there is a period of slack water around high tide when settling occurs. There is little equivalent settling at low tide, nor is there any significant settling during wet weather periods, pointing to the importance of tidal asymmetry at certain times of year. We also present an empirical relationship between peak tidal water level and turbidity during flood tides, which clearly shows the greater landward transport of sediment under spring tides, although this is moderated by the availability of erodible material.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-520
Number of pages10
JournalWater and Environment Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


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