The morphology, entrainment, and settling of suspended aggregates ("floc") significantly impact fluxes of organic carbon, nutrients, and contaminants in aquatic environments. However, transport properties of highly organic floc remain poorly understood. In this study detrital floc was collected in the Florida Everglades from two sites with different abundances of periphyton for use in a settling column and in racetrack flume entrainment experiments. Although Everglades flocs are similar to other organic aggregates in terms of morphology and settling rates, they tend to be larger and more porous than typical mineral flocs because of biostabilization processes and relatively low prevailing shear stresses typical of wetlands. Flume experiments documented that Everglades floc was entrained at a low bed shear stress of 1.0 ?? 10-2 Pa, which is considerably smaller than the typical entrainment threshold of mineral floc. Because of similarities between Everglades floc and other organic floc populations, floc transport characteristics in the Everglades typify the behavior of floc in other organic-rich shallow-water environments. Highly organic floc is more mobile than less organic floc, but because bed shear stresses in wetlands are commonly near the entrainment threshold, wetland floc dynamics are often transport-limited rather than supply limited. Organic floc transport in these environments is therefore governed by the balance between entrainment and settling fluxes, which has implications for ecosystem metabolism, materials cycling, and even landscape evolution. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Morphologic and transport properties of natural organic floc