Monitoring and Modelling Bio-Physical Parameters for Hypoxia Hazard in a Coastal Sand Pit

Patrizio Mariani, Guido Benassai*, Luisa Grieco, Claus Stenberg, Josianne G. Støttrup

*Corresponding author for this work

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Management of coastal areas requires monitoring and modeling of the anthropogenic drivers and the bio-physical processes affecting water quality. To assess the range of hydrographic conditions controlling oxygen distribution in the bottom layers of sand pits, a multi-year oceanographic survey has been conducted in a coastal area with several extraction pits. Hydrographic data including profiles of temperature, salinity and oxygen were collected and related to local wind conditions and circulation. Moreover, 1D and 3D high-resolution non-hydrostatic ocean models were used to describe turbulent mixing regimes and to obtain the range of wind speeds for which the critical anoxic conditions may occur. It is shown that wind speed appears to control the dynamics of oxygen concentrations, with oxygen depleted zones developing in a short time in low wind speed conditions. Moreover, the depth and the shape of the extraction pit contribute to decrease the mixing of the bottom layers and increase the water retention in the hole increasing the output and the persistence of oxygen depleted zones in the excavated area. The results of the numerical simulations show that the risk of hypoxia at the bottom of the sand pits is associated with higher temperatures and wind speed lower than 5 m/s, which is not infrequent during the summer season. However, the number of consecutive days of oxygen depletion can be considered lower than the danger threshold level assumed in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number785
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2018


  • Coastal environment
  • Field data
  • Hypoxia hazard
  • Numerical modeling
  • Sand pits


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