Articles | Volume 18, issue 9
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 3539–3551, 2014
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 3539–3551, 2014

Research article 10 Sep 2014

Research article | 10 Sep 2014

Modelling suspended-sediment propagation and related heavy metal contamination in floodplains: a parameter sensitivity analysis

R. Hostache1, C. Hissler1, P. Matgen1, C. Guignard1, and P. Bates2 R. Hostache et al.
  • 1CRP-Gabriel Lippmann, 41 rue du brill, L4422, Belvaux, Luxembourg
  • 2Bristol University, University Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1SS, UK

Abstract. Fine sediments represent an important vector of pollutant diffusion in rivers. When deposited in floodplains and riverbeds, they can be responsible for soil pollution. In this context, this paper proposes a modelling exercise aimed at predicting transport and diffusion of fine sediments and dissolved pollutants. The model is based upon the Telemac hydro-informatic system (dynamical coupling Telemac-2D-Sysiphe). As empirical and semiempirical parameters need to be calibrated for such a modelling exercise, a sensitivity analysis is proposed. An innovative point in this study is the assessment of the usefulness of dissolved trace metal contamination information for model calibration. Moreover, for supporting the modelling exercise, an extensive database was set up during two flood events. It includes water surface elevation records, discharge measurements and geochemistry data such as time series of dissolved/particulate contaminants and suspended-sediment concentrations. The most sensitive parameters were found to be the hydraulic friction coefficients and the sediment particle settling velocity in water. It was also found that model calibration did not benefit from dissolved trace metal contamination information. Using the two monitored hydrological events as calibration and validation, it was found that the model is able to satisfyingly predict suspended sediment and dissolve pollutant transport in the river channel. In addition, a qualitative comparison between simulated sediment deposition in the floodplain and a soil contamination map shows that the preferential zones for deposition identified by the model are realistic.