Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Research)


Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph R. Harrington


A sediment budget is the quantification of sediment sources and sinks for natural physical systems such as rivers and estuaries.

This thesis has developed estuarine sediment budgets for Cork Harbour, Kinsale Harbour and Youghal Harbour. The thesis includes a literature review of the properties of sediment, river and estuary related sediment transport, sediment management and sediment related legislation and the approaches used to develop a sediment budget for an estuary system.

An extensive study of riverine suspended sediments discharging to the estuaries has been undertaken. Both surface grab samples and depth integrating suspended sediment samples were collected, tested and analysed. A comparison of suspended sediment concentrations using both methods has been completed and a relationship between both methods developed. Flow rate-suspended sediment concentration and flow rate-suspended sediment load relationships have been developed for the rivers studied. The total suspended load for each river was estimated using the sediment rating curve-flow duration curve method. The total riverine suspended loads to Cork Harbour, Kinsale Harbour and Youghal Harbour are estimated at 27,200 ± 7,344 tonnes/year, 8,971 ± 2,422 tonnes/year and 69,200 ± 18,700 tonnes/year respectively. The suspended sediment yield of the uncontrolled river catchments has been estimated varying from approximately 3.91 ± 1.06 tonnes/km^/year to over 48.22 ± 13.02 tonnes/km2/year

All other quantifiable sediment sources and sinks have been studied to develop the sediment budget for each estuary. These include dredging quantities, effluent discharges, tidal ’flux, estuarine sediment deposition rates and estuarine resident suspended sediment load. The marine exchange is used to balance the sediment budget with marine exchange estimates for Cork Harbour, Kinsale Harbour and Youghal Harbour of approximately 400 ± 88 tonnes/tide, 32 ± 12 tonnes/tide and 95 ± 32 tonnes/tide respectively.

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