A multifaceted approach for determining sediment provenance to coastal shipping channels

Emma L. Jackson, Nathan B. English, Andrew D. Irving, Andrew M. Symonds, Gordon Dwane, Owen T. Nevin, Damien T. Maher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Maintenance dredging for shipping channels is required to maintain safe and efficient navigational channels and berths in ports around the world. Sediment that refills dredged channels can enter ports via alluvial transport of eroded materials from upstream and adjacent catchments, from marine transport due to tidal currents and wind driven currents and from longshore drift. Identifying the provenance of sediment infilling navigational channels allows port operators to mitigate and manage sediment transport, potentially reducing dredging requirements and costs. Further, understanding sediment sources can inform options for beneficial reuse or disposal of dredged sediments. A multi-faceted approach was used to assess whether sediment provenance in the Port of Gladstone could be characterized. A combination of particle size analysis, rare earth element composition, carbon stable isotope ratios, strontium isotopes, and beryllium-7 radioisotopes was employed. Samples were collected at accumulation locations within the navigational channel. Potential sediment sources were sampled from sites of longshore drift to the south of the Port of Gladstone, and intertidal sand and mud representative of transport from currents. Fluvial sediment samples were collected during dry and wet season conditions and from the three main local catchments. Potential source sediment samples yielded identifiable differences with respect to rare earth elements, while beryllium-7 isotope analysis indicated recent deposition of sediments from mudflats or catchment within the channels. The approach used here provided insights into the source of recently deposited sediments to the dredged channels, enabling managers to make informed decisions on mitigation and management strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number434
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


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