Suspended sediment transport, sedimentation, and resuspension in Lake Houston, Texas: Implications for water quality

Jane M. Matty, John B. Anderson, Robert B. Dunbar

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8 Scopus citations


Lake Houston is a man-made reservoir located northeast of Houston, Texas. The purpose of this investigation was to document suspended sediment transport, sedimentation, and resuspension in the lake with a view towards estimating the influence of sedimentation on water quality. Sediment traps were placed in strategic locations in the lake to collect suspended sediments. Samples were analyzed for bulk density, grain size, organic carbon, and a number of trace elements. These data were analyzed along with meteorological data to examine those factors which regulate suspended sediment input and dispersal, and the role of suspended sediments in controlling water quality within the lake. Sediment input to the lake depends primarily on the intensity of rainfall in the watershed. Sediment movement within the lake is strongly influenced by wave activity, which resuspends sediments from shallow areas, and by wind-driven circulation. The increased residence time of suspended sediments due to resuspension allows greater decomposition of organic matter and the release of several trace elements from sediments to the water column. Virtually all samples from sediment traps suspended between 1 and 5 m above the lake bottom contain medium to coarse silt, and even some very fine sand-sized material. This implies that circulation in Lake Houston is periodically intense enough to transport this size material in suspension. During winter, northerly winds with sustained velocities of greater than 5 m/sec provide the most suitable condition for rapid (<1 d) transport of suspended sediment down the length of the lake. Fluctuations in current velocities and the subsequent suspension/deposition of particles may explain variations in the abundance of coliform bacteria in Lake Houston.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-186
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Geology and Water Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1987
Externally publishedYes


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