Settling velocity of microplastics exposed to wave action

Annalisa De Leo, Laura Cutroneo, Damien Sous, Alessandro Stocchino

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Microplastic (MP) debris is recognized to be one of the most serious threats to marine environments. They are found in all seas and oceanic basins worldwide, even in the most remote areas. This is further proof that the transport of MPs is very efficient. In the present study, we focus our attention on MPs’ transport owing to the Stokes drift generated by sea waves. Recent studies have shown that the interaction between heavy particles and Stokes drift leads to unexpected phenomena mostly related to inertial effects. We perform a series of laboratory experiments with the aim to directly measure MPs’ trajectories under different wave conditions. The main objective is to quantify the inertial effect and, ultimately, suggest a new analytical formulation for the net settling velocity. The latter formula might be implemented in a larger scale transport model in order to account for inertial effects in a simplified approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number142
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Inertial particles
  • Microplastic transport
  • Settling velocity
  • Stokes drift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering


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