Particle tracking sediment transport model for the Buffalo River
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A particle tracking model (PTM) is developed to simulate sediment movement in a river. It includes the same processes as traditional Eulerian (control volume) based models, but adds the capability to follow the pathways of individual particles, which is useful for making remediation decisions that might include, for example, environmental dredging. The PTM tracks the movement of particles based on velocities and dispersion fields generated from a hydrodynamic model, which is a curvilinear, orthogonal grid-based model that can be conveniently used to follow the system boundaries. The movement of a particle is computed using a random walk algorithm. The PTM can function either as a stand-alone model or can be coupled to a hydrodynamic based model such as the Estuarine, Coastal and Ocean Model (ECOM), as was done in this study. The advantage of using the PTM as a stand-alone model is that it could be used independently for specific cases and hence, would save on computation time. However, it can be coupled with a hydrodynamic model in cases where the velocity and dispersion fields are sensitive to particle movements or bed elevation changes. The PTM includes boundary interactions such as reflection, deposition and resuspension, and can be compared with more traditional sediment transport models by correlating the number of particles in a grid cell to a concentration. The PTM has been used in an application to track the sediments in the Buffalo River, and provides a useful tool for current discussions of possible sediment remediation options.