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Surface-water transport of suspended matter through wetland vegetation of the Florida everglades

James E. Saiers,1 Judson W. Harvey,2 and Steven E. Mylon1

1School of Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
2U.S.G.S., Reston, Virginia, USA.

J. E. Saiers and S. E. Mylon, School of Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA. (james.saiers@yale.edu)
J. W. Harvey, U.S.G.S., Reston, VA, USA.

Received 9 July 2003; revised 28 August 2003; accepted 4 September 2003; published 7 October 2003.

Copyright 2003 by the American Geophysical Union. Posted here with permission. Citation: Saiers, J. E., J. W. Harvey, and S. E. Mylon, Surface-water transport of suspended matter through wetland vegetation of the Florida everglades, Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(19), 1987, doi:10.1029/2003GL018132, 2003.

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[1] The mobility of waterborne particulate matter plays an important role in the water quality, landscape evolution, and ecology of freshwater wetlands. In this work, we measured the surface-water transport of inorganic particles in a tracer experiment at a wetland in the Florida Everglades. Comparison of the results of this experiment to calculations of a three-dimensional transport model shows that dispersive mixing was small and that rate-limited mass-transfer reactions with emergent vegetation and periphyton substantially reduced water-column concentrations of particles. INDEX TERMS: 1871 Hydrology: Surface water quality; 1890 Hydrology: Wetlands; 1806 Hydrology: Chemistry of fresh water.

1. Introduction

[2] The transport of particulate matter is critical to the functioning of freshwater wetlands. Microscopic waterborne particles, such as colloid-sized mineral precipitates and colloidal organic matter, are capable of binding a variety of contaminants, and these contaminant-particle interactions influence contaminant bioavailability and movement [e.g., Schulz and Peall, 2001]. Besides affecting contaminant migration, particle transport processes contribute to changes in wetland geomorphology. In the Florida Everglades, for example, the degradation of the highly organized ridge and slough landscape is believed to arise, in part, from disruption of natural surface-water flow patterns, which has led to increased deposition of suspended matter in the sloughs [Aumen, 2003]. Particle transport phenomena also have implications to the distribution of wetland vegetation that rely on surface-water currents for seed dispersal [e.g., Middleton, 2000].

[3] Despite the importance of mobile particulates to the water quality, geomorphology, and ecological functioning of wetlands, field-based observations are too scarce to permit quantitative inferences to be made regarding particle- transport characteristics within freshwater wetlands. We begin to fill this gap in knowledge by measuring the movement of particulate matter in a tracer-injection experiment conducted in the Florida Everglades. Our analysis of these data reveals how advection, dispersion, and interception by aquatic vegetation combine to influence particle mobility.

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Related information:

SOFIA Project: Effect of Water Flow on Transport of Solutes, Suspended Particles, and Particle-Associated Nutrients in the Everglades Ridge and Slough Landscape

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