We propose a multi-layer approach to simulate hyperpycnal and hypopycnal plumes in flows with free surface. The model allows to compute the vertical profile of the horizontal and the vertical components of the velocity of the fluid flow. The model can describe as well the vertical profile of the sediment concentration and the velocity components of each one of the sediment species that form the turbidity current. To do so, it takes into account the settling velocity of the particles and their interaction with the fluid. This allows to better describe the phenomena than a single layer approach. It is in better agreement with the physics of the problem and gives promising results. The numerical simulation is carried out by rewriting the multilayer approach in a compact formulation, which corresponds to a system with nonconservative products, and using path-conservative numerical scheme. Numerical results are presented in order to show the potential of the model.