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A new approach to investigate the interactions between sediment transport and ecotoxicological processes during flood events

Holger Schüttrumpf1*, Markus Brinkmann2, Catrina Cofalla1*, Roy M Frings1, Sabine U Gerbersdorf3, Markus Hecker4, Sebastian Hudjetz2, Ulrike Kammann5, Gottfried Lennartz6, Sebastian Roger1, Andreas Schäffer7 and Henner Hollert2

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, RWTH Aachen University, Kreuzherrenstraße 7, 52056 Aachen, Germany

2 Department of Ecosystem Analysis, Institute for Environmental Research, RWTH Aachen University, Worringerweg 1, 52074 Aachen, Germany

3 Institute of Hydraulic Engineering, Department of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, University Stuttgart, Pfaffenwaldring 61, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany

4 Toxicology Centre, University of Saskatchewan; Saskatoon, SK, Canada

5 Johann Heinrich von Thuenen-Institute (vTI), Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forests and Fisheries, Institute of Fisheries Ecology, Palmaille 9, 22767 Hamburg, Germany

6 Gaiac - Research Institute for Ecosystem Analysis and Assessment. Mies-van-der-Rohe Str. 19; 52074 Aachen, Germany

7 Environmental Biology and Chemodynamics, Institute for Environmental Research, RWTH Aachen University, Worringerweg 1; 52074 Aachen, Germany

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Environmental Sciences Europe 2011, 23:39  doi:10.1186/2190-4715-23-39

Published: 7 December 2011


Extreme hydrodynamic events such as flood events or dredging activities bear the risk of eroding sediments in rivers, reservoirs, harbour basins or estuaries. One of the key concerns associated with these erosion processes is the re-mobilisation of sediment-bound pollutants in highly contaminated sediments. To date, much research has been conducted to characterise flow and sediment processes associated with hydrological events such as floods. Furthermore, there is a large body of literature describing the interaction of contaminants associated with particulate matter to aquatic biota. However, there is little knowledge regarding interactions between hydro-sedimentological and ecotoxicological processes. Understanding of the ecotoxicological consequences and associated risks to aquatic wildlife associated with hydraulic events can provide critical information to regulatory bodies or managing authorities. Specifically, it will aid in assessing risks associated with current management practices and will aid in developing more sustainable future management practices for waterways or harbours. Therefore, a combined experimental methodology between hydraulic engineers and ecotoxicologists was developed to investigate the ecological and toxicological relevance of sediment re-suspension and transport during erosion. An overview of this methodology is given in the present paper.

annular flume; contamination; ecotoxicology; floods; hydromechanics; sediment