Articles | Volume 2, issue 1
Earth Surf. Dynam., 2, 323–338, 2014

Special issue: Frontiers in river, coastal and estuarine morphodynamics

Earth Surf. Dynam., 2, 323–338, 2014

Research article 03 Jun 2014

Research article | 03 Jun 2014

Comparison between experimental and numerical stratigraphy emplaced by a prograding delta

E. Viparelli1, A. Blom2, C. Ferrer-Boix3, and R. Kuprenas1 E. Viparelli et al.
  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  • 2Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 3Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Abstract. A one-dimensional model that is able to store the stratigraphy emplaced by a prograding delta is validated against experimental results. The laboratory experiment describes the migration of a Gilbert delta on a sloping basement into standing water, i.e., a condition in which the stratigraphy emplaced by the delta front is entirely stored in the deposit. The migration of the delta front and the deposition on the delta top are modeled with total and grain-size-based mass conservation models. The vertical sorting on the delta front is modeled with a lee-face-sorting model as a function of the grain size distribution of the sediment deposited at the brinkpoint, i.e., at the downstream end of the delta top. Notwithstanding the errors associated with the grain-size-specific bedload transport formulation, the comparison between numerical and experimental results shows that the model is able to reasonably describe the progradation of the delta front, the frictional resistances on the delta top, and the overall grain size distribution of the delta top and delta front deposits. Further validation of the model in the case of variable base level is currently in progress to allow for future studies, at field and laboratory scale, on how the delta stratigraphy is affected by different changes of relative base level.