Siltation is the pollution of water by fine particulate terrestrial clastic material, with a particle size dominated by silt or clay. It refers both to the increased concentration of suspended sediments, and to the increased accumulation (temporary or permanent) of fine sediments on bottoms where they are undesirable. Siltation is most often caused by soil erosion or sediment spill.
Sometimes siltation is called sediment pollution, although that is an unfortunate term since it is ambiguous, and can also be used to refer to a chemical contamination of sediments accumulated on the bottom, or pollutants bound to sediment particles. Siltation is the preferred term for being unambigiuous, even if not entirely stringent since it also includes other particle sizes than silt.
The origin of the increased sediment transport into an area may be erosion on land, or activities in the water.
In rural areas the erosion source is typically soil degradation due to intensive or inadequate agricultural practices, leading to soil erosion, especially in fine-grained soils such asloess. The result will be an increased amount of silt and clay in the water bodies that drain the area. In urban areas the erosion source is typically construction activities, since this involves clearing the original land-covering vegetation and temporarily creating something akin to an urban desert from which fines are easily washed out during rainstorms.
In water the main pollution source is sediment spill from dredging, from the transportation of dredged material on barges, and the deposition of dredged material in or near water. Such deposition may be made to get rid of unwanted material, such as the offshore dumping of material dredged from harbours and navigation channels. The deposition may also have as purpose to build up the coastline, artificial islands, or for beach replenishment.
Climate change also affect siltation rates