09 Mar 2021

09 Mar 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

The transport of sediment mixtures examined with a birth-death model for grain-size fractions

Shawn M. Chartrand1,a and David Jon Furbish1,2 Shawn M. Chartrand and David Jon Furbish
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA
  • anow at: Department of Environmental Science, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

Abstract. Bedload transport of sediment mixtures in mountain streams is challenging to predict, with implications for understanding how rivers form and respond to environmental change. Experimental work shows that collective particle entrainment is an important contributing mechanism of bedload transport, but questions remain. We use four different time series of experimental sediment flux for granular particles 4–32 mm in diameter to indirectly examine the role of collective mobilization. Flux was measured at a fixed position in space using an imaging light table. The light table provides a flux measurement that is sampled at a resolution of 1 Hz, and for total time durations ranging from 75 to 240 min. Experimental conditions include periods of statistical steady-state, and transient adjustments due to changes of the upstream supply of water and sediment. We find that despite the contrasting experimental conditions, the time series encode a consistent transport behaviour within the Fourier domain: the transport of finer grain size populations has increasing power density for decreasing frequency, whereas the transport of larger grain size populations has a near constant power density across all frequencies. Hence, smaller particle sizes dominate the power spectra. We seek an explanation for this result, and elaborate on a probabilistic birth-death model introduced to the field by Christophe Ancey and colleagues. Analysis using the expanded birth-death model provides two important results. The transport of smaller particles includes collective entrainment terms that represent grain mobilization due to smaller and larger particle sizes colliding with the streambed surface. In contrast, the transport of larger particles includes collective entrainment terms limited to larger particle sizes. The size-dependent collective controls on particle mobilization is an important finding, and we show that it offers a testable explanation for observed flux differences between smaller and larger particle sizes, common to gravel-bed mountain streams. As a result, our work motivates the need to better understand collective entrainment within the context of granular sediment transport along mountain stream beds.

Shawn M. Chartrand and David Jon Furbish

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esurf-2021-16', Chenge An, 21 Mar 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on esurf-2021-16', Christophe Ancey, 23 Mar 2021
  • EC1: 'Editorial Comment on esurf-2021-16', Jens Turowski, 21 Apr 2021
  • AC2: 'Comment on esurf-2021-16', Shawn Chartrand, 02 Jul 2021

Shawn M. Chartrand and David Jon Furbish

Data sets

Experimental sediment transport data using a light table device and analysis scripts Shawn M. Chartrand, David Jon Furbish, and Marwan A. Hassan

Video supplement

Gravel mixture sediment transport videos from a straight-walled flum Shawn M. Chartrand

Shawn M. Chartrand and David Jon Furbish


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