US Army Corps of Engineers
Portland District

Overview of controlling factor: Sediment quality

Map showing graphical informationSediment quality refers to the grain size, organic matter, oxygen, and contaminant contents of the sediment. Sediment quality affects the type and distribution of benthic infauna, as well as plant productivity.

The figure at bottom left shows the distribution of Corophium salmonis in the estuary (Fox et al. 1984).

The figure at bottom right shows a conceptual diagram for habitat-forming processes, with red highlights indicating potential contaminant influence (Ward, unpublished).

 Sediment graph showing color-valuated dataStressors that affect sediment quality:

  • Agriculture
  • Dredging
  • Extreme climatic events
  • Filling
  • Logging
  • Marinas and overwater structures 
  • Shoreline armoring
  • Urbanization
  • Volcanic activity
  • Wastewater discharges  

Ecosystem structures that are affected by sediment quality:

  • Scrub-shrub forest
  • Emergent marsh
  • Mud / sand flats
  • Submerged aquatic vegetation
  • Shallow slope
  • Deep channel  

Interactions and equations:

  • Hydrogeomorphic functions
  • Habitat functions of tidal wetlands

Contact information

Ronald Thom, Ph.D
360-681-3657

Marine Research Operations, PNNL
1529 W. Sequim Bay Rd.
Sequim, WA 98382