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Beneficial use of dredged sediment to enhance salt marsh development by applying a ‘Mud Motor’
Baptist, M.J.; Gerkema, T.; Van Prooijen, B.C.; Van Maren, D.S.; van Regteren, M.; Schulz, K.; Colosimo, I.; Vroom, J.; van Kessel, T.; Grasmeijer, B.; Willemsen, P.; Elschot, K.; De Groot, A.V.; Cleveringa, J.; van Eekelen, E.M.M.; Schuurman, F.; De Lange, H.J.; van Puijenbroek, M.E.B. (2019). Beneficial use of dredged sediment to enhance salt marsh development by applying a ‘Mud Motor’. Ecol. Eng. 127: 312-323.
In: Ecological Engineering. Elsevier: Amsterdam; London; New York; Tokyo. ISSN 0925-8574; e-ISSN 1872-6992, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Building with Nature; Nature-based solutions; Cohesive sediment; Dredging; Salt marshes; Intertidal flats

Authors  Top 
  • Baptist, M.J., more
  • Gerkema, T., more
  • Van Prooijen, B.C., more
  • Van Maren, D.S., more
  • van Regteren, M.
  • Schulz, K., more
  • Colosimo, I.
  • Vroom, J., more
  • van Kessel, T., more
  • Grasmeijer, B.
  • Willemsen, P., more
  • Elschot, K.
  • De Groot, A.V.
  • Cleveringa, J., more
  • van Eekelen, E.M.M.
  • Schuurman, F.
  • De Lange, H.J.
  • van Puijenbroek, M.E.B.

    We test an innovative approach to beneficially re-use dredged sediment to enhance salt marsh development. A Mud Motor is a dredged sediment disposal in the form of a semi-continuous source of mud in a shallow tidal channel allowing natural processes to disperse the sediment to nearby mudflats and salt marshes. We describe the various steps in the design of a Mud Motor pilot: numerical simulations with a sediment transport model to explore suitable disposal locations, a tracer experiment to measure the transport fate of disposed mud, assessment of the legal requirements, and detailing the planning and technical feasibility. An extensive monitoring and research programme was designed to measure sediment transport rates and the response of intertidal mudflats and salt marshes to an increased sediment load. Measurements include the sediment transport in the tidal channel and on the shallow mudflats, the vertical accretion of intertidal mudflats and salt marsh, and the salt marsh vegetation cover and composition. In the Mud Motor pilot a total of 470,516 m3 of fine grained sediment (D50 of ∼10 μm) was disposed over two winter seasons, with an average of 22 sediment disposals per week of operation. Ship-based measurements revealed a periodic vertical salinity stratification that is inverted compared to a classical estuary and that is working against the asymmetric flood-dominated transport direction. Field measurements on the intertidal mudflats showed that the functioning of the Mud Motor, i.e. the successful increased mud transport toward the salt marsh, is significantly dependent on wind and wave forcing. Accretion measurements showed relatively large changes in surface elevation due to deposition and erosion of layers of watery mud with a thickness of up to 10 cm on a time scale of days. The measurements indicate notably higher sediment dynamics during periods of Mud Motor disposal. The salt marsh demonstrated significant vertical accretion though this has not yet led to horizontal expansion because there was more hydrodynamic stress than foreseen. In carrying out the pilot we learned that the feasibility of a Mud Motor depends on an assessment of additional travel time for the dredger, the effectiveness on salt marsh growth, reduced dredging volumes in a port, and many other practical issues. Our improved understanding on the transport processes in the channel and on the mudflats and salt marsh yields design lessons and guiding principles for future applications of sediment management in salt marsh development that include a Mud Motor approach

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