Benthic boundary layer

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The benthic boundary layer (BBL) is the layer of water directly above the sediment at the bottom of a river, lake or sea. It is generated by the friction of the water moving over the surface of the substrate. The thickness of this zone is determined by many factors including the Coriolis force.

The zone is of interest to biologist, geologists, sedimentologists, oceanographers, physicists and engineers as well as many other scientific disciplines. It is the area of interaction between the two environments and as such is important in many species' reproductive strategies, particularly larvae dispersal. The benthic boundary layer also contains nutrients important in fisheries, a wide array of microscopic life, a variety of suspended materials, and sharp energy gradients. It is also the sink for many anthropogenic substances released into the environment.


  • The Benthic Boundary Layer, Transport Processes and Biogeochemistry. Edited by Bernard P. Boudreau and Bo Barker Jørgensen . February 2001, Oxford University Press.