Articles | Volume 12, issue 1
Research article
15 Feb 2024
Research article |  | 15 Feb 2024

Dimensionless argument: a narrow grain size range near 2 mm plays a special role in river sediment transport and morphodynamics

Gary Parker, Chenge An, Michael P. Lamb, Marcelo H. Garcia, Elizabeth H. Dingle, and Jeremy G. Venditti

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Cited articles

An, C., Parker, G., Fu, X., Lamb, M. P., and Venditti, J. G.: Morphodynamics of downstream fining in rivers with unimodal sand-gravel feed, in: Proceedings International Conference on Fluvial Hydraulics (River Flow 2020), Delft, Netherlands, 7–10 July 2020, p. 2646, CRC Press, ISBN 9781003110958, 2020. 
Ashida, K. and Michiue, M.: Study on hydraulic resistance and bedload transport rate in alluvial streams, Transactions, Japan Soc. Civil Eng., 206, 59–69, 1972 (in Japanese). 
Birch, S. P. D., Parker, G., Corlies, P., Soderblom, J., Miller, J. W., Palermo, R., Lora, J. M., Ashton, A. D., Hayes, A. G., and Perron, J. T.: Reconstructing river flows remotely on Earth, Titan, and Mars, P. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 120, e2206837120,, 2023. 
Brownlie, W. R.: Prediction of flow depth and sediment discharge in open channels, Report No. KH-R-43A, W. M. Keck Laboratory of Hydraulics and Water Resources, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA, 1982. 
Butler, J.: Further reflections on conversations of our time, Diacritics, 27, 13–15, 1997. 
Short summary
River morphology has traditionally been divided by the size 2 mm. We use dimensionless arguments to show that particles in the 1–5 mm range (i) are the finest range not easily suspended by alluvial flood flows, (ii) are transported preferentially over coarser gravel, and (iii), within limits, are also transported preferentially over sand. We show how fluid viscosity mediates the special status of sediment in this range.