Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

Mud dynamics in the Southern North Sea and its interaction with ecological processes

Date: 03 July 2018
Location: Rotterdam

Mud plays an important role in the ecological functioning of the Southern North Sea. The reason for this important role is twofold: in the water column, suspended mud particles have a crucial influence on the light climate, thereby influencing primary production and the base of the food web. In the seabed, mud acts as cohesive sediment, which is often relatively rich in nutrients and provides an essential stable matrix for organisms to construct their burrows.

Therefore, understanding the behaviour and transport of mud in the marine environment, and its interaction with ecological processes, bears great societal relevance for human activities taking place in the North Sea. These human activities include, but are not limited to, sand mining, nourishments and land reclamations.

Mud dynamics and its interplay with ecological processes has proven to be a relevant topic for assessing the impact of human activities in the Southern North Sea. This is illustrated by the extensive monitoring and modelling that has taken place during the construction of Maasvlakte 2, but also in the Environmental Impact Assessments of sand mining activities. From these studies, several questions still arise: For instance, what are physical and biological processes leading to the exchange of mud with the primarily sandy seabed? How can we understand the seasonal variations in suspended sediment concentrations in the offshore part of the Southern North Sea? Why do we find significant mud deposits in the shallow nearshore zone? How can we interpret and link in-situ measurements to numerical models?

Goals of this theme day are:

  • Obtain an overview of the current ‘state-of-the-art’ with respect to mud dynamics and its interplay with benthic ecological processes, through discussion with experts
  • Identify knowledge gaps and discuss about research agenda
  • Involve policymakers and industry in discussion about research agenda and practical implementation of this research agenda

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