Characteristics of suspended sediment concentration and distribution of maximum coastal turbidity of the Mekong river

Nguyen Ngoc Tien
Author affiliations


  • Nguyen Ngoc Tien Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, VAST, Vietnam



Maximum turbidity, transport of suspended sediment, Mekong river.


This paper presents the results of applying a 3D mathematical model to study the in the Mekong riverside area’s maximum turbidity zone (MTZ). This study has established and calibrated a three-dimensional system model with a combination of hydraulics-waves and suspended sediment transport with measured data in the study area. Based on the calculated scenarios for the flood and the dry seasons, the results show the occurrence of MTZs in the riparian zone of the Mekong river with typical suspended sediment concentrations ranging from 0.04–1.0 kg/m3 dry season and 0.2–1.1 kg/m3 flood season. The location and size of the MTZs change seasonally with the interaction between freshwater and tidal oscillations. They appear more in the dry season. At high tide, seawater with high salinity intrudes into estuaries with a range of up to 50 km, causing disturbance and flocculation. While in the flood season, the distribution of the largest turbidity has moved the floodplain with a range of about 20 km.


Download data is not yet available.


Dyer, K. R., 1995. Sediment transport processes in estuaries. In Developments in Sedimentology (Vol. 53, pp. 423–449). Elsevier.

Unverricht, D., Szczuciński, W., Stattegger, K., Jagodziński, R., Le, X. T., and Kwong, L. L. W., 2013. Modern sedimentation and morphology of the subaqueous Mekong Delta, Southern Vietnam. Global and Planetary Change, 110, 223–235.

Grabemann, I., Uncles, R. J., Krause, G., and Stephens, J. A., 1997. Behaviour of turbidity maxima in the Tamar (UK) and Weser (FRG) estuaries. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 45(2), 235–246.

Wolanski, E., King, B., and Galloway, D., 1995. Dynamics of the turbidity maximum in the Fly River estuary, Papua New Guinea. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 40(3), 321–337.

Wolanski, E., Huan, N. N., Nhan, N. H., and Thuy, N. N., 1996. Fine-sediment dynamics in the Mekong River estuary, Vietnam. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 43(5), 565–582.

Li, J., and Zhang, C., 1998. Sediment resuspension and implications for turbidity maximum in the Changjiang Estuary. Marine Geology, 148(3–4), 117–124.

Jay, D. A., and Musiak, J. D., 1994. Particle trapping in estuarine turbidity maxima. Journal of Geophysical Research, 99(20), 446–20.

Sherwood, C. R., Harris, C. K., Geyer, W. R., and Butman, B., 2002. Toward a community coastal sediment transport modeling system: the second workshop. Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 83(51), 604–605.

Allen, G. P., and Castaing, P., 1973. Suspended sediment transport from the Gironde estuary (France) onto the adjacent continental shelf. Marine Geology, 14(5), 47–53.

Geyer, W. R., Woodruff, J. D., and Traykovski, P., 2001. Sediment transport and trapping in the Hudson river estuary. Estuaries, 24, 670–679.

Sanford, L. P., Suttles, S. E., and Halka, J. P., 2001. Reconsidering the physics of the Chesapeake Bay estuarine turbidity maximum. Estuaries, 24, 655–669.

Uncles, R. J., and Stephens, J. A., 1993. Nature of the turbidity maximum in the Tamar Estuary, UK. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 36(5), 413–431.

Diaz, M., Grasso, F., Le Hir, P., Sottolichio, A., Caillaud, M., and Thouvenin, B., 2020. Modeling mud and sand transfers between a macrotidal estuary and the continental shelf: Influence of the sediment transport parameterization. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125(4), e2019JC015643.

Yang, Y., Li, Y., Sun, Z., and Fan, Y., 2014. Suspended sediment load in the turbidity maximum zone at the Yangtze River Estuary: The trends and causes. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 24, 129–142.

Gao, J. H., Jun, L. I., Harry, W. A. N. G., Bai, F. L., Cheng, Y., and Wang, Y. P., 2012. Rapid changes of sediment dynamic processes in Yalu river estuary under anthropogenic impacts. International Journal of Sediment Research, 27(1), 37–49.

Wan, Y., Roelvink, D., Li, W., Qi, D., and Gu, F., 2014. Observation and modeling of the storm-induced fluid mud dynamics in a muddy-estuarine navigational channel. Geomorphology, 217, 23–36.

Uncles, R. J., Barton, M. L., and Stephens, J. A., 1994. Seasonal variability of fine-sediment concentrations in the turbidity maximum region of the Tamar Estuary. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 38(1), 19–39.

Burchard, H., and Baumert, H., 1998. The formation of estuarine turbidity maxima due to density effects in the salt wedge. A hydrodynamic process study. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 28(2), 309–321.

Vinh, V. D., Lan, T. D., Tu, T. A., Kim Anh, N. T., 2014. A numerical model to study maximum turbidity zones in Mekong estuary coastal area. Vietnam Journal of Marine Science and Technology, 14(3A), 317–326. (in Vietnamese).

Tien, N. N., Cuong, D. H., Mau, L. D., Tung, N. X., and Hung, P. D., 2020. Mechanism of formation and estuarine turbidity maxima in the Hau river mouth. Water, 12(9), 2547.

Vinh, V. D., Thanh, T. D., 2012. Aplication numerical model to study on maximum turbidity zones in Bach Dang estuary. Vietnam Journal of Marine Science and Technology, 12(3), 1–11. (in Vietnamese).

Duy Vinh, V., Ouillon, S., and Van Uu, D., 2018. Estuarine Turbidity Maxima and variations of aggregate parameters in the Cam-Nam Trieu estuary, North Vietnam, in early wet season. Water, 10(1), 68.

PortCoast Consultant Corporation, 2006, Feasibility project of Waterway for heavy-tonnages ships to enter the Hau river, Ministry of Transport, Vietnam. (in Vietnamese).

Boyer, T., Ed., Mishonov, A., Technical Ed., 2013. World Ocean Atlas 2013 Product Documentation. Ocean Climate Laboratory NODC/NESDIS/NOAA. Silver Spring, MD.">

DHI, 2014. Mike 21/3 Coupled Model FM.

DHI, 2014. Mike 21 & Mike 3 Flow Model FM. Hydrodynamic and Mud Transport Module. Scientific Documentation.

DHI, 2014. Mike 21 & Mike 3 Flow Model FM. Mud Transport Module. Scientific Documentation.

Lefevre, F., Lyard, F. H., Le Provost, C., and Schrama, E. J., 2002. FES99: a global tide finite element solution assimilating tide gauge and altimetric information. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 19(9), 1345–1356.

Lyard, F., Lefevre, F., Letellier, T., and Francis, O., 2006. Modelling the global ocean tides: modern insights from FES2004. Ocean dynamics, 56, 394–415.

Argoss, B. M. T., 2011. Overview of the service and validation of the database waveclimate. Reference: RP_A870. Available online:; accessed 15 April 2016.

Schneider, V. R., and Arcement, G. J., 1989. Guide for Selecting Manning’s Roughness Coefficients for Natural Channels and Flood Plains. Available from the US Geological Survey, Books and Open-File Reports Section, Box 25425, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0425. Water-Supply Paper 2339, 1989. 38 p, 22 fig, 4 tab, 23 ref.

Simons, D. B., and Şentürk, F., 1992. Sediment transport technology: water and sediment dynamics. Water Resources Publication.

Rodi, W., 1980. Turbulence models and their application in hydraulics-A state of the art review. NASA STI/Recon Technical Report A, 81, 21395.

Lin, J., and Kuo, A. Y., 2003. A model study of turbidity maxima in the York River Estuary, Virginia. Estuaries, 26, 1269–1280.

Wolanski, E., Nhan, N. H., and Spagnol, S., 1998. Sediment dynamics during low flow conditions in the Mekong River estuary, Vietnam. Journal of Coastal Research, 472–482.

Eidam, E. F., Nittrouer, C. A., Ogston, A. S., DeMaster, D. J., Liu, J. P., Nguyen, T. T., and Nguyen, T. N., 2017. Dynamic controls on shallow clinoform geometry: Mekong Delta, Vietnam. Continental Shelf Research, 147, 165–181.

Duy Vinh, V., Ouillon, S., Van Thao, N., and Ngoc Tien, N., 2016. Numerical simulations of suspended sediment dynamics due to seasonal forcing in the Mekong coastal area. Water, 8(6), 255.

Nowacki, D. J., Ogston, A. S., Nittrouer, C. A., Fricke, A. T., and Van, P. D. T., 2015. Sediment dynamics in the lower M ekong R iver: Transition from tidal river to estuary. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 120(9), 6363–6383.




How to Cite

Nguyen, N. T. (2023). Characteristics of suspended sediment concentration and distribution of maximum coastal turbidity of the Mekong river. Vietnam Journal of Marine Science and Technology, 23(3), 247–264.




Most read articles by the same author(s)