Suspended sediment transport in a highly erodible catchment: The River Isabena (Southern Pyrenees)

J. A. López-Tarazón, Ramon J. Batalla, Damià Vericat Querol, T. Francke

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    Understanding and quantifying sediment load is important in catchments draining highly erodible materials that eventually contribute to siltation of downstream reservoirs. Within this context, the suspended sediment transport and its temporal dynamics have been studied in the River Isabena (445 km(2), south-central Pyrenees, Ebro basin) by means of direct sampling and turbidity recording during a 3-year dry period. The average flood-suspended sediment concentration was 8 g l(-1). with maximum instantaneous values above 350 g l(-1). The high scatter between discharge and suspended sediment concentrations (up to five orders of magnitude) has not permitted the use of rating curve methods to estimate the total load. Interpolation techniques yielded a mean annual sediment load of 184,253 t y(-1) for the study period, with a specific yield of 414 t km(-2) y(-1). This value resembles those reported for small torrents in nearby mountainous environments and is the result of the high connectivity between the badland source areas and stream courses, a fact that maximises sediment conveyance through the catchment. Floods dominated the sediment transport and yield. However, sediment transport was more constant through time than that observed in Mediterranean counterparts; this can be attributed to the role of base flows that entrain fine sediment temporarily stored in the channel and force the river to carry high sediment concentrations (i.e., generally in the order of 0.5 g l(-1)), even under minimum flow conditions. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)210-221
    Issue number3-4
    Early online date16 Mar 2009
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2009


    • suspended sediment transport
    • Specific yield
    • reservoir sedimentation
    • interpolation
    • hysteresis
    • river Isábena


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