River Sediment Transport in Serbia

Slobodan Petković1


1Jaroslav Černi Institute for the Development of Water Resources, Jaroslava Černog 80, Belgrade, Serbia



River sediment transport within the territory of Serbia is discussed in the paper. The correlation between hydrological and sediment transport parameters was analyzed using data from a sediment database compiled for rivers where the relevant parameters are monitored and from which the sediment regimes have been determined for small, medium and large rivers. This facilitated an assessment of Serbia's approximate sediment budget.

Keywords: sediment transport, rivers, Serbian territory, sediment budget.




Comprehensive studies of the production and river sediment transport in central Serbia are generally based on the essential link between erosion processes within drainage areas and sediment transport along the Serbian river network. The spatial scale of these processes is important; erosion processes tend to take place in mountainous regions, where transport processes begin via a network of torrential streams, and end in the largest lowland rivers. As a result, a river sediment transport assessment needs to encompass the entire river network in Serbia.

The territory of Serbia has a natural hydromorphological predisposition for the development of erosion processes, given that three quarters of the territory isare hilly or mountainous. There are numerous characteristic topographic features and steep slopes conducive to intensive erosion. The geological makeup is heterogeneous but with a large proportion of erodible rocks. On the other hand, the vegetation cover in hilly areas is not adequate to protect the soil from mass wasting. Consequently, there is an interaction of sorts between the three major drivers of erosion processes: energy, resistance and protection, which has resulted in the erosion patterns generally encountered in Serbia.

The goal of the present study of river sediment transport in Serbia was to determine the general sediment budget. Most of the sediment produced within Serbia, which becomes entrained along the river network, reaches the main watercourses that empty into two large rivers, which flow along the northern boundary of central Serbia. The two rivers are the Sava and the Danube. Their major tributaries include the Velika Morava, the Drina, the Kolubara, the Mlava, the Pek and the Timok. It should be noted that the Drina and the Timok define parts of Serbia's state border and thus receive sediment from neighboring countries—Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bulgaria. Serbia's river network is shown in Fig. 1.

The land area of central Serbia is roughly 56,000 km2, and within it the river basin of the Velika Morava (Greater Morava), including the drainage areas of the Južna Morava (South Morava) and Zapadna Morava (West Morava), at whose confluence the Velika Morava originates, is about 38,000 km2. It is for that reason that the Velika Morava River Basin plays a major role in river sediment transport studies and in the determination of the general sediment budget. In this regard, the fact that most of the gauging stations that monitor sediment are located within the Velika Morava River Basin is a favorable circumstance, which facilitates river sediment transport and sediment budget assessments.