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Biomechanics of the Sediment Erosion, Transport, Deposition and Consolidation cycle


The dynamic equilibrium between the erosion, deposition and transport of coastal sediments is of ever increasing importance due to environmental changes and associated sea-level rise. Factors controlling this equilibrium are comparatively poorly understood, especially the influence of microbial activity that alters the biomechanical properties of the sediment mediating hydrodynamic stresses.

It has been recognised that the production and subsequent properties of extra cellular polymers is key to the understanding of this biogenic mediation of sediment erosion and particle entrainment. The aim of this proposal is to investigate the quantity and quality pattern of polymeric substances as well as the physical network of EPS fibrils in dependence of abiotic fact ors (e.g. light, nutrients), physiological status (e.g. growth, cell division) and /or taxonomic composition of the producers (e.g. eukaryotic/prokaryotic).

Moreover, the effect of physico-chemical conditions and sediment depth on polymer binding capacity will be addressed. Within this interdisciplinary approach, covariance pattern of biomechanical and physico-chemical sediment properties will be considered. Finally, the question will be followed, how these variances in polymer content and composition affect Sediment Stability and Flocculation Behaviour / Transport dynamics.

The objectives will be achieved using the excellent analytical facilities of the host institute including techniques such as PAM (Physiological Status of algae), Microelectrodes (Primary Production), Low Temperature Scanning Electron Microscopy (LTSEM, physical network), cohesive strength meter (CSM, erosion resistance), in-line laser holography and video (erosion process, erosion rate and flocs characteristics), ElectroSpray Ionization Mass Spectrometry (ESI-MS) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) (floc polymer composition).

Call for proposal

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St. Andrews, Fife
United Kingdom