Abiotic predictors of fine sediment accumulation in lowland rivers

Morwenna McKenzie*, Judy England, Ian Foster, Martin Wilkes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


The delivery of excessive fine sediment (particles < 2 mm in diameter) to rivers can cause serious deleterious effects to aquatic ecosystems and is widely acknowledged to be one of the leading contributors to the degradation of rivers globally. Despite advances in using biological methods as a proxy, physical measures remain an important method through which fine sediment can be quantified. The aim of this study was to provide further insights into the environmental variables controlling sediment accumulation in lowland gravel bed rivers. We sampled 21 sites, during spring and autumn, selected to cover a gradient of excess fine sediment. Fine sediment was sampled using a range of methods including visual assessments, the disturbance method, and suspended sediment concentrations. A range of abiotic predictors were measured during sampling, and hydrological and antecedent flow indices were derived from local flow gauging station data. The results show reach scale visual estimates of fine sediment to be significantly and highly correlated with fully quantitative estimates of total surface sediment. Multivariate regression analysis showed that flow variables (regime, antecedent, and local flow characteristics) were strong predictors of deposited sediment metrics but poor predictors of suspended sediment. Organic content was shown to be relatively independent of total sediment quantity and is likely driven by other factors which influence the supply and breakdown of organic matter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-137
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Sediment Research
Issue number1
Early online date2 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2022


  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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