A General Model For Prediction Of Changes In Fluxes To And From Contaminated Sediments In Response To Changes In Water Quality

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This project has two closely associated aims.

The pollution impacts of sediments vary qualitatively and quantitatively dependent on the contemporary chemistry of the water column. This water chemistry varies both naturally - seasonally, diurnally and with variations in plankton density - and as the pollutant loading is decreased or remedial actions such as oxygen injection are made. One aim of the project is to develop a model that is able to predict changes in oxygen and metal fluxes in response to these changes in overlying water quality. To achieve this, the objectives are to:

  • monitor the interaction between soluble and solid phases within the sediment
  • monitor in-situ fluxes across the sediment water interface.

Pollution impacts of sediments may also be altered by dredging, which removes the sediment water interface and replaces it with a previously buried surface. The other aim of the project is to identify sediment that has become refractory, no longer oxidisible or only oxidisible at a slow rate. Recognition of the depth at which this occurs will be required to guide the depth to which any dredging may be necessary at a specific site, whilst the ability to recognise such a change will be generic. The objectives to meet this aim are to:

  • devise appropriate measurements of sediment oxygen demand
  • identify marker compounds or suites of compounds indicative of a refractory horizon.


Greater Manchester


The approach will be to devise an initial model primarily from existing theory, whilst collecting field data. As the field data is collected, it will be used to calibrate the model and, subsequent to calibration failures, to refine the abstractions and assumptions of the initial model. A full sampling and monitoring programme will be undertaken at a site in the turning basin of the Manchester Ship Canal (MSC) and the largest of the Salford Quays, as these provide the best opportunity for generic and specific research. A site in the lower reaches of the MSC, towards Liverpool, and a canal site in central Birmingham will each be sampled three times during the project and monitored throughout.

Start date/duration

October 1998 Two years

Lead Organisation

University of Manchester

Manchester Metropolitan University


This project will produce a general model to predict the changes in fluxes to and from contaminated sediments in response to changes in water quality. The findings will be published in major international journals and at an international geochemistry conference. The research material may also be incorporated in computer aided learning packages, some of which may be aimed at schools. Display material will also be produced for use in the Salford Quays Visitor Centre.


Bodies and companies responsible for urban redevelopment

Earth Science Courseware Consortium

Further Details

Further information is available from the following contacts:

Lead Researcher: Dr S Boult

Tel: 0161 275 6913, Fax: 0161 275 3947, e-mail: s.boult@man.ac.uk 

URGENT Programme Manager: Graham Leeks

Tel: 01491 692203, Fax: 01491 692313, e-mail: gjll@ceh.ac.uk