Articles | Volume 10, issue 5
16 Oct 2006
16 Oct 2006

Salt intrusion in multi-channel estuaries: a case study in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

A. D. Nguyen and H. H. Savenije

Abstract. There is a well-tested theory for the computation of salt intrusion in alluvial estuaries that is fully analytical and predictive. The theory uses analytical equations to predict the mixing behaviour of the estuary based on measurable quantities, such as channel topography, river discharge and tidal characteristics. It applies to single-channel topographies and estuaries that demonstrate moderate tidal damping. The Mekong delta is a multi-channel estuary where the tide is damped due to a relatively strong river discharge (in the order of 2000 m3/s), even during the dry season. As a result the Mekong is a strongly riverine estuary. This paper aims to test if the theory can be applied to such a riverine multi-channel estuary, and to see if possible adjustments or generalisations need to be made. The paper presents salt intrusion measurements that were done by moving boat in 2005, to which the salt intrusion model was calibrated. The theory has been expanded to cater for tidal damping. Subsequently the model has been validated with observations made at fixed locations over the years 1998 and 1999. Finally it has been tested whether the Mekong calibration fits the overall predictive equations derived in other estuaries. The test has been successful and led to a slight adjustment of the predictive equation to cater for estuaries that experience a sloping bottom.