Bioturbation is the activity of organisms (mainly worm species) in soil and sediment that moves material in vertical direction (up or down). Earthworms for instance may bury nanomaterials (NMs) and derived materials, thereby possibly altering the environments conditioning the transformation and fate of NMs. In sediments, NMs may be transported to anoxic conditions, while in soils they may be transferred from unsaturated to saturated conditions. Furthermore, the potential horizontal movements of the NMs (through e.g. advection or bulk water flow) may also be altered by their vertical  displacement.


Occurs in

               Biota                                                                           Sediment 



Fate descriptors 



soil turnover


\LARGE k_{bioturb}

bioturbation rate

\LARGE v=\beta w


\LARGE k_{bioturb} =\frac{v}{d}


v - soil turnover rate (m/s)

\beta - bioturbation fitting parameter (m4/s)

w - earthworm density (individuals/m3)

k_{bioturb} - bioturbation rate (/s)

v - soil turnover rate (m/s)

d - depth of soil layer (m)

Bioturbation in the NanoFASE model

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Read also


Baccaro, M., Harrison, S., den Berg, H., Sloot, L., Hermans, D., Cornelis, G., van Gestel, C. A., van den Brink, N. W. (2019) Bioturbation of Ag2S-NPs in soil columns by earthworms. Environmental Pollution 252, A, September.





  Nico van den Brink 

  Wageningen University




  Marta Baccaro

  Wageningen University