Experiments on the evolution of supply-limited sand bed forms on coarse gravel beds

Eddy Langendoen, Daniel Wren, Roger Kuhnle

Thursday 2 july 2015

11:45 - 12:00h at Mississippi (level 1)

Themes: (T) Sediment management and morphodynamics, (ST) Sediment transport mechanisms and modelling

Parallel session: 11A. Sediment - Transport

The advanced age and impending decommissioning of many dams have brought increased attention to the fate of sediments stored in reservoirs. In many cases, fine sediments are reintroduced to coarse substrates that have large volumes of pore space available for storage after having sediments removed by years of sediment-starved flow. Recent research has found that the fine sediment elevation relative to the coarse substrate significantly alters bed surface roughness, turbulence characteristics, the mobility of the fine sediment, and consequently sediment transport rates and sediment bed forms that move over and through these coarse substrates. The roughness of the bed surface is an important parameter for the prediction of bulk flow and sediment transport rates. In order to calculate sediment transport rates, bed shear stresses are typically adjusted for drag exerted by the flow on macro roughness elements, which are related here to the protrusion of coarse substrate particles and sediment bed forms. Hence, a proper understanding of the interactions between near-bed flow structure, sediment transport rates, and bed surface elevation is needed to adequately determine the downstream impact of fine sediment releases from reservoirs. Recent experiments in a sediment-recirculating flume (15 m long, 0.36 m wide, and 0.45 m deep) were carried out to elucidate turbulence and sand transport over and through coarse gravel substrates. The median diameter of the sand was 0.3 mm, and that of the gravel was 35 mm. This paper presents results on the change in bed form types with increasing sand elevation relative to the coarse gravel substrate and for Froude numbers ranging from about 0.1 to 0.6. The mean sand elevation was varied between 5 cm below the top of the gravel and the top of the gravel. The bed level was measured using both an acoustic sensor and stereo photogrammetry. The acoustic sensor provided bed elevation transects along the channel centerline, whereas digital elevation models were derived from the stereo images. At low mean sand elevations an individual, low-relief dune-like bed form initially developed for larger Froude numbers. Groups of increasingly numerous low-relief bed forms developed when increasing mean sand elevation. The tops of the bed forms were located at an elevation similar to those of the higher gravel tops.