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Research article2016Peer reviewed

A mesocosm experiment of suspended particulate matter dynamics in nutrient- and biomass-affected waters

Tang, Fiona H. M.; Maggi, Federico


An experimental study was conducted to test the hypothesis that the biomass growing after an increase in available nutrient in an aquatic ecosystem affects the flocculation dynamics of suspended particulate matter (SPM). The experiment was carried out in a settling column equipped with a turbulence generating system, a water quality monitoring system, and an automated APIV system to acquire micro photographs of SPM. Three SPM types were tested combinatorially at five turbulence shear rates, three nutrient concentrations, and three mineral concentrations. Analyses of experimental data showed that nutrient availability together with the presence of biomass increased the SPM size by about 60% at low shear as compared to nutrient- and biomass-free conditions; a lower increase was observed at higher shears. In contrast, only 2% lower fractal (capacity) dimension and nearly invariant settling velocity were observed than in nutrient- and biomass-free conditions. Likewise, SPM size and capacity dimension were found to be insensitive to the SPM concentration. Although limited to nearly homogeneous mineral mixes (kaolinite), these experimental findings not only reject the hypothesis that SPM in natural waters can be dealt with as purely mineral systems in all instances; but also anticipate that SPM dynamics in natural waters increasingly exposed to the threat of anthropogenic nutrient discharge would lead to an increased advective flow of adsorbed chemicals and organic carbon. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Kaolinite; Microbial biomass; Flocculation; Floc size; Fractal dimension; Settling velocity

Published in

Water Research
2016, Volume: 89, pages: 76-86

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
    Water Engineering

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